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BY R. F. JOHNSTON, M.A. (Oxon.), F.R.G.S. 








DEC 16 1971 
















The meeting-place of the British Lion and the Chinese 
Dragon in northern China consists of the port and 
Territory of Weihaiwei. It is therefore with this 
district, and the history, folk-lore, religious practices 
and social customs of its people, that the following 
pages are largely occupied. But Weihaiwei is in 
many respects a true miniature of China, and a careful 
study of native life and character, as they are ex- 
hibited in this small district, may perhaps give us a 
clearer and truer insight into the life and character 
of the Chinese race than we should gain from any 
superficial survey of China as a whole. Its present 
status under the British Crown supplies European 
observers with a unique opportunity for the close 
study of sociological and other conditions in rural 
China. If several chapters of this book seem to be 
but slightly concerned with the special subject of 
Weihaiwei, it is because the chief interest of the place 
to the student lies in the fact that it is an epitomised 
China, and because if we wish fully to understand 
even this small fragment of the Empire we must 

make many long excursions through the wider fields 



of Chinese history, sociology and religion. The 
photographs (with certain exceptions noted in each 
case) have been taken by the author during his 
residence at Weihaiwei. From Sir James H. Stewart 
Lockhart, K.C.M.G., Commissioner of Weihaiwei, he 
has received much kind encouragement which he 
is glad to take this opportunity of acknowledging; 
and he is indebted to Captain A. Hilton-Johnson for 
certain information regarding the personnel of the late 
Chinese Regiment. His thanks are more especially 
due to his old friend Mr. D. P. Heatley, Lecturer 
in History at the University of Edinburgh, for his 
generous assistance in superintending the publication 
of the book. 

R. F. Johnston. 

May I, 1910. 






















WEST 408 


INDEX . - 451 



WEIHAIWEI Frontispiece 
















"we are three" 128 








"walking boats" at THE FIRST- FULL-MOON FESTIVAL . 182 



















SHEN-TZU (mule-litter) FORDING A STREAM. . . . 3x4 



















a mountain stream and hamlet 398 

wen-ch'Uan-t'ang 400 

shrine on summit of ku shan ....... 414 

villagers at a temple doorway 414 

two british rulers on the march, with mule-litter 

and horse 434 

a roadside scene 434 

the commissioner of weihaiwei (sir j. h. stewart 
lockhart, k.c.m.g.), with priest and attendants 



WEIHAIWEI at the etid 




Less than a dozen years have passed since the guns 
of British warships first saluted the flag of their 
country at the Chinese port of Weihaiwei, yet it is 
nearly a century since the white ensign was seen 
there for the first time. In the summer of 1816 His 
Britannic Majesty's frigate Alceste, accompanied by 
the sloop Lyra, bound for the still mysterious and 
unsurveyed coasts of Korea and the Luchu Islands, 
sailed eastwards from the mouth of the Pei-ho along 
the northern coast of the province of Shantung, and 
on the 27th August of that year cast anchor in the 
harbour of " Oie-hai-oie." Had the gallant officers of 
the Alceste and Lyra been inspired with knowledge of 
future political developments, they would doubtless 
have handed down to us an interesting account of the 
place and its inhabitants. All we learn from Captain 
Basil Hall's delightful chronicle of the voyage of the 
two ships consists of a few details — in the truest sense 
ephemeral — as to wind and weather, and a statement 
that the rocks of the mainland consist of "yellowish 
felspar, white quartz, and black mica." The rest is 

From that time until the outbreak of the Sino- 


Japanese War in 1894 the British public heard little 
or nothing of Weihaiwei. After the fall of Port 
Arthur, during that war, it was China's only remaining 
naval base. The struggle that ensued in January 
1895, when, with vastly superior force, the Japanese 
attacked it by land and sea, forms one of the few 
episodes of that war upon which the Chinese can look 
back without overwhelming shame. Victory, how- 
ever, went to those who had the strongest battalions 
and the stoutest hearts. The three-weeks siege ended 
in the suicide of the brave Chinese Commander-in- 
Chief, Admiral Ting, and in the loss to China of 
her last coast-fortress and the whole of her fleet. 
Finally, as a result of the seizure of Port Arthur by 
Russia and a subsequent three-cornered agreement 
between Japan, China and England, Weihaiwei was 
leased to Great Britain under the terms of a Conven- 
tion signed at Peking in July 1898. 

The British robe of empire is a very splendid and 
wonderfull}' variegated garment. It bears the gor- 
geous scarlets and purples of the Indies, it shimmers 
with the diamonds of Africa, it is lustrous with the 
whiteness of our Lady of Snows, it is scented with 
the spices of Ceylon, it is decked with the pearls and 
soft fleeces of Australia. But there is also— pinned to 
the edge of this magnificent robe— a little drab- 
coloured ribbon that is in constant danger of being 
dragged in the mud or trodden underfoot, and is 
frequently the object of disrespectful gibes. This is 

Whether the imperial robe would not look more 
imposing without this nondescript appendage is a 
question which may be left to the student of political 
fashion-plates : it will concern us hardly at all in the 
pages of this book. An English newspaper published 
in China has dubbed Weihaiwei the Cinderella of the 
British Empire, and speculates vaguely as to where 
her Fairy Prince is to come from. Alas, the Fairy 
Godmother must first do her share in making poor 


Cinderella beautiful and presentable before any Fairy 
Prince can be expected to find in her the lady of his 
dreams : and the Godmother has certainly not yet 
made her appearance, unless, indeed, the British 
Colonial Office is presumptuous enough to put 
forward a claim (totally unjustifiable) to that position. 
By no means do I, in the absence of the Fairy Prince, 
propose to ride knight-like into the lists of political 
controversy wearing the gage of so forlorn a damsel- 
in-distress as Weihaiwei. Let me explain, dropping 
metaphor, that the following pages will contain but 
slender contribution to the vexed questions of the 
strategic importance of the port or of its potential 
value as a depot of commerce. Are not such things 
set down in the books of the official scribes ? Nor 
will they constitute a guide-book that might help 
exiled Europeans to decide upon the merits of 
Weihaiwei as a resort for white-cheeked children 
from Shanghai and Hongkong, or as affording a 
dumping-ground for brass-bands and bathing-machines. 
On these matters, too, information is not lacking. As 
for the position of Weihaiwei on the playground of 
international politics, it may be that Foreign Ministers 
have not yet ceased to regard it as an interesting toy 
to be played with when sterner excitements are 
lacking. But it will be the aim of these pages to 
avoid as far as possible any incursion into the realm 
of politics : for it is not with Weihaiwei as a diplo- 
matic shuttlecock that they profess to deal, but with 
Weihaiwei as the ancestral home of many thousands 
of Chinese peasants, who present a stolid and almost 
changeless front to all the storms and fluctuations of 
politics and war. 

Books on China have appeared in large numbers 
during the past few years, and the production of 
another seems to demand some kind of apology. Yet 
it cannot be said that as a field for the ethnologist, the 
historian, the student of comparative religion and of 
folk-lore, the sociologist or the moral philosopher, 


China has been worked out. The demand for books 
that profess to deal in a broad and general way with 
China and its people as a whole has probably, indeed, 
been fully satisfied : but China is too vast a country 
to be adequately described by any one writer or group 
of writers, and the more we know about China and its 
people the more strongly we shall feel that future 
workers must confine themselves to less ambitious 
objects of study than the whole Empire. The pioneer 
who with his prismatic compass passes rapidly over 
half a continent has nearly finished all he can be 
expected to do ; he must soon give place to the 
surveyor who with plane-table and theodolite will 
content himself with mapping a section of a single 

It is a mistake to suppose that any class of 
European residents in or visitors to the Far East 
possesses the means of acquiring sound knowledge 
of China and the Chinese. Government officials — 
whether Colonial or Consular — are sometimes rather 
apt to assume that what they do not know about 
China is not worth knowing ; missionaries show a 
similar tendency to believe that an adequate knowledge 
of the life and " soul" of the Chinese people is attain- 
able only by themselves ; while journalists and 
travellers, believing that officials and missionaries 
are necessarily one-sided or bigoted, profess to speak 
with the authority that comes of breezy open-minded- 
ness and impartiality. The tendency in future will 
be for each writer to confine himself to that aspect 
of Chinese life with which he is personally familiar, 
or that small portion of the Empire that comes within 
the radius of his personal experience. If he is a 
keen observer he will find no lack of material ready 
to his hand. Perhaps the richer and more luxuriant 
fields of inquiry may be occupied by other zealous 
workers : then let him steal quietly into some thorny 
and stony corner which they have neglected, some 
wilderness that no one else cares about, and set to 


work with spade and hoe to prepare a little garden 
for himself. Perhaps if he is industrious the results 
maybe not wholly disappointing; and the passer-by 
who peeps over his hedge to jeer at his folly and 
simplicity in cultivating a barren moor may be 
astonished to find that the stony soil has after all 
produced good fruit and beautiful flowers. In 
attempting a description of the people of Weihaiwei, 
their customs and manners, their religion and super- 
stitions, their folk-lore, their personal characteristics, 
their village homes, 1 have endeavoured to justify my 
choice of a field of investigation that has so far been 
neglected by serious students of things Chinese. It 
may be foolish to hope that this little wilderness will 
prove to be of the kind that blossoms like a rose, yet 
at least I shall escape the charge of having staked 
out a valley and a hill and labelled it " China." 

Hitherto Weihaiwei has been left in placid enjoy- 
ment of its bucolic repose. The lords of commerce 
despise it, the traveller dismisses it in a line, the 
sinologue knows it not, the ethnologist ignores it, 
the historian omits to recognise its existence before 
the fateful year 1895, while the local British official, 
contenting himself with issuing tiny Blue-book reports 
which nobody reads, dexterously strives to convince 
himself and others that its administrative problems 
are sufficiently weighty to justify his existence and 
his salary. And yet a few years of residence in this 
unpampered little patch of territory — years spent to 
a great extent without European companionship, 
when one must either come to know something of 
the inhabitants and their ways or live like a mole — 
have convinced one observer, and would doubtless 
convince many others, that to the people of Wei- 
haiwei life is as momentous and vivid, as full of 
joyous and tragic interest, as it is to the proud people 
of the West, and that mankind here is no less worthy 
the pains of study than mankind elsewhere. 

There is an interesting discovery to be made almost 


as soon as one has dipped below the surface of the daily 
life of the Weihaiwei villagers, and it affords perhaps 
ample compensation and consolation for the apparent 
narrowness of our field of inquiry. In spite of their 
position at one of the extremities of the empire, a 
position which would seemingly render them peculiarly 
receptive to alien ideas from foreign lands, the people 
of Weihaiwei remain on the whole steadfastly loyal 
to the views of life and conduct which are, or were 
till recently, recognised as typically Chinese. Indeed, 
not only do we find here most of the religious ideas, 
•superstitious notions and social practices which are 
still a living force in more centrally-situated parts 
of the Empire, but we may also discover strange in- 
stances of the survival of immemorial rites and quasi- 
religious usages which are known to have flourished 
dim ages ago throughout China, but which in less 
conservative districts than Weihaiwei have been 
gradually eliminated and forgotten. One example of 
this is the queer practice of celebrating marriages 
between the dead. The reasons for this strange cus- 
tom must be dealt with later;^ here it is only desirable 
to mention the fact that in many other parts of China 
it appears to have been long extinct. The greatest 
authority on the religious systems of China, Dr. De 
Groot, whose erudite volumes should be in the hands 
of every serious student of Chinese rites and cere- 
monies, came across no case of " dead-marriage " 
during his residence in China, and he expressed un- 
certainty as to whether this custom was still practised.' 
Another religious rite which has died out in many 
other places and yet survives in Weihaiwei, is that of 
burying the soul of a dead man (or perhaps it would 
be more correct to say one of his souls) without his 
body.' Of such burials, which must also be dealt with 
later on. Dr. De Groot, in spite of all his researches, 

' See pp. 230 seq.f 233 seq. 

^ The Religious System of CImta, vol. ii. p. 806. 

' See pp. 281 seq. 


seems to have come across no instance, though he 
confidently expressed the correct belief that some- 
where or other they still took place.^ 

As the people of Weihaiwei are so tenacious of old 
customs and traditions, the reader may ask with what 
feelings they regard the small foreign community 
which for the last decade and more has been dwelling 
in their midst. Is British authority merely regarded 
as an unavoidable evil, something like a drought or 
bad harvest ? Does British influence have no effect 
whatever on the evolution of the native character and 
modes of thought ? The last chapter of this book 
will be found to contain some observations on these 
matters : but in a general way it may be said that 
the great mass of the Chinese population of Weihaiwei 
has been only very slightly, and perhaps transiently, 
affected by foreign influences. The British com- 
munity is very small, consisting of a few officials, 
merchants, and missionaries. With two or three 
exceptions all the Europeans reside on the island of 
Liukung and in the small British settlement of Port 
Edward, where the native population (especially 
on the island) is to a great extent drawn from the 
south-eastern provinces of China and from Japan, 
The European residents — other than officials and 
missionaries — have few or no dealings with the people 
except through the medium of their native clerks and 
servants. The missionaries, it need hardly be said, 
do not interfere, and of course in no circumstances 
would be permitted to interfere, with the cherished 
customs of the people, even those which are branded 
as the idolatrous rites of " paganism." 

Apart from the missionaries, the officials are the 
only Europeans who come in direct contact with the 
people, and it is, and always has been, the settled 
policy of the local Government not only to leave the 
people to lead their own lives in their own way, but, 
when disputes arise between natives, to adjudicate 

^ Op. cit. vol. iii. p. 854. 


between them in strict conformity with their own 
ancestral usages. In this the local Government is 
only acting in obedience to the Order-in-Council 
under which British rule in Weihaiwei was in- 
augurated. " In civil cases between natives," says the 
Order, "the Court shall be guided by Chinese or 
other native law and custom, so far as any such law 
or custom is not repugnant to justice and morality." 
The treatment accorded to the people of Weihaiwei 
in this respect is, indeed, no different from that 
accorded to other subject races of the Empire ; 
but whereas, in other colonies and protectorates, 
commercial or economic interests or political con- 
siderations have generally made it necessary to 
introduce a body of English-made law which to a 
great extent annuls or transforms the native traditions 
and customary law, the circumstances of Weihaiwei 
have not yet made it necessary to introduce more 
than a very slender body of legislative enactments, 
hardly any of which run counter to or modify Chinese 
theory or local practice. 

From the point of view of the European student of 
Chinese life and manners the conditions thus existing 
in Weihaiwei are highly advantageous. Nowhere else 
can " Old China " be studied in pleasanter or more 
suitable surroundings than here. The theories of 
" Young China," which are destined to improve so 
much of the bad and to spoil so much of the good 
elements in the political and social systems of the 
Empire, have not yet had any deeply-marked influ- 
ence on the minds of this industrious population of 
simple-minded farmers. The Government official in 
Weihaiwei, whose duties throw him into immediate 
contact with the natives, and who in a combined 
magisterial and executive capacity is obliged to ac- 
quaint himself with the multitudinous details of their 
daily life, has a unique opportunity for acquiring an 
insight into the actual working of the social machine 
and the complexities of Chinese character. 


This satisfactory state of things cannot be regarded as 
permanent, even if the foreigner himself does not soon 
become a mere memory. If Weihaiwei were to under- 
go development as a commercial or industrial centre, 
present conditions would be greatly modified. Not only 
would the people themselves pass through a startling 
change in manners and disposition — a change more 
or less rapid and fundamental according to the manner 
in which the new conditions affected the ordinary life 
of the villagers — but their foreign rulers would, in a 
great measure, lose the opportunities which they now 
possess of acquiring first-hand knowledge of the 
people and their ancestral customs. Government 
departments and officials would be multiplied in order 
to cope with the necessary increase of routine work, 
the executive and judicial functions would be carefully 
separated, and the individual civil servant would 
become a mere member or mouthpiece of a single 
department, instead of uniting in his own person — as 
he does at present — half a dozen different executive 
functions and wide discretionary powers with regard 
to general administration. Losing thereby a great 
part of his personal influence and prestige, he would 
tend to be regarded more and more as the salaried 
servant of the public, less and less as a recognisable 
representative of the fu-mu-kuan (the " father-and- 
mother official ") of the time-honoured administrative 
system of China. That these results would assuredly 
be brought about by any great change in the economic 
position of Weihaiwei cannot be doubted, since 
similar causes have produced such results in nearly 
all the foreign and especially the Asiatic possessions 
of the British Crown. 

But there are other forces at work besides those 
that may come from foreign commercial or industrial 
enterprise, whereby Weihaiwei may become a far 
less desirable school than it is at present for the 
student of the Chinese social organism. Hitherto 
Weihaiwei has with considerable success protected 


itself behind walls of conservatism and obedience 
to tradition against the onslaughts of what a Con- 
fucian archbishop, if such a dignitary existed, might 
denounce as " Modernism." But those walls, how- 
ever substantial they may appear to the casual eye, 
are beginning to show signs of decay. There is 
indeed no part of China, or perhaps it would be truer 
to say no section of the Chinese people, that is totally 
unaffected at the present day by the modern spirit 
of change and reform. It is naturally the most highly 
educated of the people who are the most quickly 
influenced and roused to action, and the people of 
Weihaiwei, as it happens, are, with comparatively few 
exceptions, almost illiterate. But the spirit of change 
is " in the air," and reveals itself in cottage-homes as 
well as in books and newspapers and the market- 
places of great cities. Let us hope, for the good of 
China, that the stout walls of conservatism both in 
Weihaiwei and elsewhere will not be battered down 
too soon or too suddenly. 

One of the gravest dangers overhanging China at 
the present day is the threatened triumph of mere 
theory over the results of accumulated experience. 
Multitudes of the ardent young reformers of to-day — 
not unlike some of the early dreamers of the French 
Revolution — are aiming at the destruction of all the 
doctrines that have guided the political and social life 
of their country for three thousand years, and hope 
to build up a strong and progressive China on a 
foundation of abstract principles. With the hot- 
headed enthusiasm of youth they speak lightly of the 
impending overthrow, not only of the decaying forces 
of Buddhism and Taoism, but also of the great 
politico-social structure of Confucianism, heedless of 
the possibility that these may drag with them to 
destruction all that is good and sound in Chinese 
life and thought. Buddhism (in its present Chinese 
form) might, indeed, be extinguished without much 
loss to the people ; Taoism (such as it is nowadays) 


might vanish absolutely and for ever, leaving perhaps 
no greater sense of loss than was left by the decay 
of a belief in witchcraft and alchemy among our- 
selves ; but Confucianism (or rather the principles and 
doctrines which Confucianism connotes, for the system 
dates from an age long anterior to that of Confucius) 
cannot be annihilated without perhaps irreparable 
injury to the body-social and body-politic of China. 
The collapse of Confucianism would undoubtedly 
involve, for example, the partial or total ruin of the 
Chinese family system and the cult of ancestors. 

With the exception of Roman Catholics and the 
older generation of Protestant missionaries with a 
good many of their successors, who condemn all 
Chinese religion as false or " idolatrous," few, if any, 
European students of China will be heard to dis- 
approve — whether on ethical or religious grounds — of 
that keystone of the Chinese social edifice known to 
Europeans as ancestor-worship. To the revolutionary 
doctrines of the extreme reformers Weihaiwei and 
other "backward " and conservative parts of China are 
— half unconsciously — opposing a salutary bulwark. 
They cannot hope to keep change and reform alto- 
gether at a distance, nor is it at all desirable that 
they should do so ; indeed, as we have seen, their 
walls of conservatism are already beginning to crumble. 
But if they only succeed in keeping the old flag flying 
until the attacking party has been sobered down by 
time and experience and has become less anxious 
to sweep away all the time-honoured bases of morality 
and social government, these old centres of conserva- 
tism will have deserved the gratitude of their country. 
What indeed could be more fitting than that the 
Confucian system should find its strongest support, 
and perhaps make its last fight for life, in the very 
province in which the national sage lived and taught, 
and where his body has lain buried for twenty-five 
centuries ? 



As applied to the territory leased by China to Great 
Britain the word Weihaiwei is in certain respects a 
misnomer. The European reader should understand 
that the name is composed of three separate Chinese 
characters, each of which has a meaning of its own.* 
The first of the three characters (transliterated Wei 
in Roman letters) is not the same as the third : the 
pronunciation is the same but the "tone" is different, 
and the Chinese symbols for the two words are quite 
distinct. The first Wei is a word meaning Terrible, 
Majestic, or Imposing, according to its context or 
combinations. The word Jiai means the Sea. The 
combined words Wei-hai Ch'eng or Weihai City, 
which is the real name of the little town that stands 
on the mainland opposite the island of Liukung, might 
be roughly explained as meaning " City of the August 
Ocean," but in the case of Chinese place-names, as 
of personal names, translations are always unnecessary 
and often meaningless. The third character, Wei^ 
signifies a Guard or Protection; but in a technical sense, 
as applied to the names of places, it denotes a certain 
kind of garrisoned and fortified post partially ex- 
empted from civil jurisdiction and established for the 
protection of the coast from piratical raids, or for 

' The three characters in question are depicted on the binding of this 



guarding the highways along which tribute-grain and 
pubhc funds are carried through the provinces to the 

A IVet is more than a mere fort or even a fortified 
town. It often implies the existence of a military 
colony and lands held by military tenure, and may 
embrace an area of some scores of square miles. 
Perhaps the best translation of the term would be 
" Military District." The Wei of Weihai was only 
one of several Wei established along the coast of 
Shantung, and like them it owed its creation chiefly 
to the piratical attacks of the Japanese. More remains 
to be said on this point in the next chapter ; here it 
will be enough to say that the Military District of 
Weihai was established in 1398 and was abolished in 
1735. From that time up to the date of the Japanese 
occupation in 1895 it formed part of the magisterial 
(civil) district of Wen-teng, though this does not mean 
that the forts were dismantled or the place left without 
troops. In strictness, therefore, we should speak not 
of Weihaiwei but of Weihai, which would have the 
advantage of brevity : though as the old name is used 
quite as much by the Chinese as by ourselves there 
is no urgent necessity for a change. But in yet an- 
other respect the name is erroneous, for the territory 
leased to Great Britain, though much larger than that 
assigned to the ancient Wei, does not include the 
walled city which gives its name to the whole. The 
Territory, however, embraces not only all that 
the Wei included except the city, but also a con- 
siderable slice of the districts of Wen-teng and Jung- 
ch'eng. It should therefore be understood that the 
Weihaiwei with which these pages deal is not merel}'^ 
the small area comprised in the old Chinese Wei, but 
the three hundred square miles (nearly) of territory 
ruled since 1898 by Great Britain. We shall have 
cause also to make an occasional excursion into the 
much larger area (comprising perhaps a thousand 
square miles) over which Great Britain has certain 


vague military rights but vvitliin which she has no 
civil jurisdiction. 

A glance at a map of eastern Shantung will show 
the position of the Weihaiwei Territory (for such is 
its official designation under the British administra- 
tion) with regard to the cities of Wen-teng (south), 
Jung-ch'eng (east), and Ning-hai (west). Starting 
from the most easterly point in the Province, the 
Shantung Promontory, and proceeding westwards 
towards Weihaiwei, we find that the Jung-ch'eng 
district embraces all the country lying eastward of 
the Territory ; under the Chinese regime it also in- 
cluded all that portion of what is at present British 
territory which lies east of a line drawn from the 
sea near the village of Sheng-tzii to the British frontier 
south of the village of Ch'iao-t'ou. All the rest of 
the Territory falls within the Chinese district of which 
Wen-teng is the capital. Jung-ch'eng city is situated 
five miles from the eastern British frontier, Wen-teng 
city about six miles from the southern. The magis- 
terial district of Ning-hai has its headquarters in a 
city that lies over thirty miles west of the British 
western boundary. The official Chinese distances 
from Weihaiwei city to the principal places of im- 
portance in the neighbourhood are these : to Ning-hai, 
I20 li; to Wen-teng, loo //; to Jung-ch'eng, no it. 
A li is somewhat variable, but is generally regarded 
as equivalent to about a third of an English mile. 
The distance to Chinan, the capital of the Shantung 
Province, is reckoned at 1,350 //, and to Peking (by 
road) 2,300 ii} 

The mention of magisterial districts makes it desir- 
able to explain, for the benefit of readers whose 

• The following list of distances by sea to the principal neigh- 
bouring ports may be of interest. The distance is in each case 
reckoned from the Weihaiwei harbour. Shantung Promotitory, 
30 miles; Chefoo, 42 miles; Fori Arthicr, 89 miles; Dalny, 91 miles ; 
Chemulpo, 232 miles; Taku, 234 miles; Shanghai, 452 miles; 
Kiaochou, 194 miles; Nagasaki^ 510 miles. 


knowledge of China is limited, that every Province 
(there are at present eighteen Provinces in China 
excluding Chinese Turkestan and the Manchurian 
Provinces) is subdivided for administrative purposes 
into Fii and Hsien^ words generally translated by the 
terms Prefecture and District-Magistracy. The pre- 
fects and magistrates are the fn-mu-kuan or Father- 
and-mother officials ; that is, it is they who are the 
direct rulers of the people, are supposed to know 
their wants, to be always ready to listen to their 
complaints and relieve their necessities, and to love 
them as if the relationship were in reality that of 
parent and children. That a Chinese magistrate has 
often very queer ways of showing his paternal affec- 
tion is a matter which need not concern us here. In 
the eyes of the people the fn-mu-kuan is the living 
embodiment of imperial as well as merely patriarchal 
authority, and in the eyes of the higher rulers of the 
Province he is the official representative of the 
thousands of families over whom his jurisdiction 
extends. The father-and-mother official is in short 
looked up to by the people as representing the Em- 
peror, the august Head of all the heads of families, 
the Universal Patriarch ; he is looked down to by his 
superiors as representing all the families to whom 
he stands in loco parentis} A district magistrate is 
subordinate to a prefect, for there are several magis- 
tracies in each prefecture, but both are addressed as 
Ta lao-yeh. This term — a very appropriate one for 
an official who represents the patriarchal idea — may 
be literally rendered Great Old Parent or Grand- 
father ; whereas the more exalted provincial officials, 
who are regarded less as parents of the people than 
as Servants of the Emperor, are known as Ta-jen : a 
term which, literally meaning Great Man, is often but 

' " The magistrate is the unit of government ; he is the backbone of 
the whole official system ; and to ninety per cent, of the population he 
is the Government." — Byron Brenan's Office of District Magistrate in 


not always appropriately regarded as equivalent to 
" Excellency." 

All the district-magistracies mentioned in connexion 
with Weihaiwei are subordinate to a single prefecture. 
The headquarters of the prefect, who presides over 
a tract of country several thousand square miles in 
extent, are at the city of Teng-chou, situated on the 
north coast of Shantung 330 // or about 1 10 miles 
by road west of Weihaiwei. The total number of 
prefectures (/«) in Shantung is ten, of magistracies 
one hundred and seven. As Shantung itself is esti- 
mated to contain 56,000 square miles of territory,' the 
average size of each of the Shantung prefectures may 
be put down at 5,600 and that of each of the magis- 
tracies at about 520 square miles. The British terri- 
tory of Weihaiwei being rather less than 300 square 
miles in extent is equivalent in area to a small-sized 
district-magistracy. The functions of a Chinese 
district magistrate have been described by some 
Europeans as somewhat analogous to those of an 
English mayor, but the analogy is very misleading. 
Not only has the district magistrate greater powers 
and responsibilities than the average mayor, but he 
presides over a far larger area. He is chief civil 
officer not only within the walls of the district capital 
but also throughout an extensive tract of country that 
is often rich and populous and full of towns and 

The eastern part of the Shantung Peninsula, in 
which Weihaiwei and the neighbouring districts of 
Jung-ch'eng, Wen-teng and Ning-hai are situated, 
is neither rich nor populous as compared with the 
south-western parts of the Province. The land is not 
unfertile, but the agricultural area is somewhat small, 
for the country is very hilly. Like the greater part of 
north China, Shantung is liable to floods and droughts, 
and local famines are not uncommon. The unequal 

' England and Wales contain 58,000 square miles, with a population 
perhaps slightly less than that of Shantung. 


distribution of the rainfall is no doubt partly the 
result of the almost total absence of forest. Foresta- 
tion is and always has been a totally neglected art 
in China, and the wanton manner in which timber 
has been wasted and destroyed without any serious 
attempt at replacement is one of the most serious blots 
on Chinese administration, as well as one of the chief 
causes of the poverty of the people.^ If north China 
is to be saved from becoming a desert (for the arable 
land in certain districts is undoubtedly diminishing 
in quantity year by year) it will become urgently 
necessary for the Government to undertake forestation 
on a large scale and to spend money liberally in 
protecting the young forests from the cupidity of the 
ignorant peasants. The German Government in 
Kiaochou is doing most valuable work in the re- 
forestation of the hills that lie within its jurisdiction, 
and to a very modest extent Weihaiwei is acting 
similarly. Perhaps the most encouraging sign is the 
genuine interest that the Chinese are beginning to 
take in these experiments, though it is difficult to 
make them realise the enormous economic and climatic 
advantages which forestation on a large scale would 
bring to their country. 

It must have been the treelessness of the district 
and the waterless condition of the mountains as viewed 
from the harbour and the sea-coast that prompted the 
remark made in an official report some years ago that 
Weihaiwei is "a colder Aden"; and indeed if we 
contemplate the coast-line from the deck of a steamer 
the description seems apt enough, A ramble through 
the Territory among the valleys and glens that pene- 
trate the interior in every direction is bound to modify 
one's first cheerless impressions very considerably. 
Trees, it is true, are abundant only in the immediate 

* As early as the seventh century B.C. deforestation had become 
a recognised evil in the State of Ch'i (part of the modern Shantung), 
chiefly owing to the lavish use of timber for coffins and grave-vaults. 
{See De Groot's Religioits System of China, vol. ii. pp. 660-1.) 



neighbourhood of villages and in the numerous family 
burial-grounds ; but the streams are often lined with 
graceful willows, and large areas on the mountain- 
slopes are covered with green vegetation in the shape 
of scrub-oak. At certain seasons of the year the want 
of trees is from an aesthetic point of view partly 
atoned for by the blended tints of the growing crops ; 
and certainly to the average English eye the waving 
wheat-fields and the harvesters moving sickle in hand 
through the 3"ellow grain offer a fairer and more home- 
like spectacle than is afforded by the marshy rice- 
lands of the southern provinces. On the whole, 
indeed, the scenery of Weihaiwei is picturesque and 
in some places beautiful.^ The chief drawback next 
to lack of forest is the want of running water. The 
streams are only brooks that can be crossed by 
stepping-stones. In July and August, when the 
rainfall is greatest, they become enormously swollen 
for a few days, but their courses are short and 
the flood-waters are soon carried down to the sea. 
In winter and spring some of the streams wholly 
disappear, and the greatest of them becomes the 
merest rivulet. 

The traveller who approaches Weihaiwei by sea 
from the east or south makes his first acquaintance 
with the Shantung coast at a point about thirty miles 
(by sea) east of the Weihaiwei harbour. This is the 
Shantung Promontory, the Chinese name of which is 
Ch'eng Shan Tsui or Ch'eng Shan T'ou. Ch'eng 
Shan is the nam-e of the hill which forms the Promon- 
tory, while Tsui and T^oti (literally Mouth and Head) 
mean Cape or Headland. Before the Jung-ch'eng 
magistracy was founded (in 1735) this extreme eastern 
region was a military district like Weihaiwei. Taking 
its name from the Promontory, it was known as Ch'eng- 

• Especially some of the sea-beaches, the defiles that lie between 
Yii-chia-k'uang and Shang Chuang, and the valleys in which are 
situated Ch'i-k'uang, Wang-chia-k'uang, Pei k'ou, Chang-chia-shan, and 
Ch'ien Li-k'ou. 


shan-wei. Ch'eng Shan, with all the rest of the present 
Jun-ch'eng district, is within the British " sphere of 
influence" ; that is to say, Great Britain has the right 
to erect fortifications there and to station troops : 
rights which, it may be mentioned, have never been 

The Shantung Promontory has been the scene of 
innumerable shipwrecks, for the sea there is apt to be 
rough, fogs are not uncommon, and there are many 
dangerous rocks. The first lighthouse — a primitive 
affair — is said to have been erected in 1821 by a pious 
person named Hsu Fu-ch'ang ; but long before that a 
guild of merchants used to light a great beacon fire 
every night on a conspicuous part of the hill. A large 
bell was struck, so the records state, when the weather 
was foggy. The present lighthouse is a modern 
structure under the charge of the Chinese Imperial 
Customs authorities. Behind the Promontory — that 
is, to the west (landward) side — there is a wide stretch 
of comparatively flat land which extends across the 
peninsula. It may be worth noting that an official 
ot the Ming dynasty named T'ien Shih.-lung actually 
recommended in a state paper that a canal should be 
cut through this neck of land so as to enable junks to 
escape the perils of the rock-bound Promontory. He 
pointed out that the land was level and sandy and 
that several ponds already existed which could be 
utilised in the construction of the canal. Thus, he 
said, could be avoided the great dangers of the rocks 
known as Shih Huang Ch'iao and Wo Lung Shih. 
The advice of the amateur engineer was not acted 
upon, but his memorial (perhaps on account of its 
literary style) was carefully preserved and has been 
printed in the Chinese annals of the Jung-ch'eng 

These annals contain an interesting reference to one 
of the two groups of rocks just named. Wo Lung 
Shih means " Sleeping dragon rocks," and no particular 
legend appears to be attached to them, though it 


would have been easy to invent one. But the Shih 
Huang Ch'iao, or Bridge of the First Emperor, is 
regarded by the people as a permanent memorial of 
that distinguished monarch who in the third century b.c. 
seized the tottering throne of the classic Chou dynasty 
and established himself as the First Emperor (for such 
is the title he gave himself) of a united China. 
Most Europeans know nothing of this remarkable 
man except that he built the Great Wall of China and 
rendered his reign infamous by the Burning of the 
Books and the slaughter of the scholars. Whether 
his main object in the latter proceeding was to stamp 
out all memory of the acts of former dynasties so that 
to succeeding ages he might indeed be the First of the 
historical Emperors, or whether it was not rather an 
act of savagery such as might have been expected of 
one who was not " born in the purple " and who derived 
his notions of civilisation from the semi-barbarous 
far-western state of Ch'in, is perhaps an impossible 
question to decide : and indeed the hatred of the 
Chinese literati for a sovereign who despised literature 
and art may possibly have led them to be guilty of 
some exaggeration in the accounts they have given 
us of his acts of vandalism and murder. 

During his short reign as Emperor, Ch'in Shih 
Huang-ti (who died in 210 b.c.) is said to have 
travelled through the Empire to an extent that was 
only surpassed by the shadowy Emperor Yu who 
lived in the third millennium b.c. Yu was, according 
to tradition, the prince of engineers. He it was who 
" drained the Empire " and led the rivers into their 
proper and appropriate channels. The First Emperor 
might be said, had he not affected contempt for all 
who went before him, to have taken the great Yii as 
his model, for he too left a reputation of an ambitious 
if not altogether successful engineer. The story goes 
that he travelled all the way to the easternmost point 
of Shantung, and having arrived at the Promontory, 
decided to build a bridge from there to Korea, or to 


the mysterious islands of P'eng-lai where the herb of 
immortality grew, or to the equally marvellous region 
of Fu-sang. 

The case of the First Emperor affords a good 
example of how wild myths can be built up on a 
slender substratum of fact. Had he lived a few 
centuries earlier instead of in historic times, his name 
doubtless would have come down the ages as that of 
a demi-god; even as things are, the legends that sprang 
up about him in various parts of northern China might 
well be connected with the name of some prehistoric 
hero. The Chinese of eastern Shantung have less to 
say of him as a monarch than as a mighty magician. 
In order to have continuous daylight for building the 
Great Wall, he is said to have been inspired with the 
happy device of transfixing the sun with a needle, thus 
preventing it from moving. His idea of bridge- 
building had the simplicity of genius : it was simply 
to pick up the neighbouring mountains and throw 
them into the sea. He was not without valuable 
assistance from persons who possessed powers even 
more remarkable than his own. A certain spirit helped 
him by summoning a number of hills to contribute 
their building-stone. At the spirit's summons, so the 
story goes, thirteen hills obediently sent their stones 
rolling down eastwards towards the sea. On came 
the boulders, big and little, one after another, just as 
if they were so many live things walking. When 
they went too slowly or showed signs of laziness 
the spirit flogged them with a whip nntil the blood 

The truth of this story, in the opinion of the people, 
is sufficiently attested by the facts that one of the 
mountains is still known as Chao-shih-shan or " Sum- 
mon-the-rocks hill," and that many of the stones on 
its slopes and at its base are reddish in hue.^ The 
Emperor was also helped by certain Spirits of the 
Ocean {hai-shen), who did useful work in establishing 

' The story is quoted in the T'ai PHng Huan Yii Chi {chilan 20). 


the piers of his bridge in deep water.^ The Emperor, 
according to the story, was deeply grateful to these 
Ocean Spirits for their assistance, and begged for a 
personal interview with them so that he might express 
his thanks in proper form. " We are horribly ugly," 
replied the modest Spirits, " and you must not pay us 
a visit unless you will promise not to draw pictures 
of us." The Emperor promised, and rode along the 
bridge to pay his visit. When he had gone a distance 
of forty li he was met by the Spirits, who received 
him with due ceremony. During the interview, the 
Emperor, who like Odysseus was a man of many 
wiles, furtively drew his hosts' portraits on the ground 
with his foot. As luck would have it the Spirits 
discovered what he was doing, and naturally be- 
came highly indignant. " Your Majesty has broken 
faith with us," they said. *' Begone ! " The Emperor 
mounted his horse and tried to ride back the way he 
had come, but lo ! the animal remained rigid and 
immovable, for the Spirits had bewitched it and turned 
it into a rock ; and his Majesty had to go all the 
way back to the shore on foot.^ 

This regrettable incident did not cause the cessation 
of work on the bridge, though the Emperor pre- 
sumably received no more help from the Spirits of 
the Ocean. But on one unlucky day the Emperor's 
wife presumed without invitation to pay her in- 
dustrious husband a visit, and brought with her 
such savoury dishes as she thought would tempt the 
imperial appetite. Now the presence of women, 
say the Chinese, is utterly destructive of all magical 
influences. The alchemists, for example, cannot com- 
pound the elixir of life in the presence of women, 
chickens, or cats. The lady had no sooner made 

' With regard to this assistance from spirits, cf. the Jewish legend 
that King Solomon by the aid of a magic ring controlled the demons 
and compelled them to give their help in the building of the great 

* See T'ai F'iug Huan Yii Chi, loc. cit. 


her appearance at Ch'eng Shan than the bridge, 
which was all but finished, instantaneously crumbled 
to pieces. So furious was her imperial spouse at 
the ruin of his work that he immediately tore the 
unhappy dame to pieces and scattered her limbs over 
the sea-shore, where they can be seen in rock-form 
to this day. The treacherous rocks that stretch out 
seawards in a line from the Promontory are the ruins 
of the famous bridge, and still bear the name of the 
imperial magician. 

Legends say that a successor of the First Emperor, 
namely Han Wu Ti (140-87 b.c), who also made a 
journey to eastern Shantung, was ill-advised enough 
to make an attempt to continue the construction of 
the mythical bridge ; but he only went so far as to 
set up two great pillars. These are still to be seen at 
ebb-tide, though the uninitiated would take them to 
be mere shapeless rocks. Han Wu Ti's exploits were 
but a faint copy of those of the First Emperor. Ch'eng 
Shan Tsui has for many centuries been dedicated to 
that ruler's memory, and on its slopes his temple may 
still be visited. The original temple, we are told, was 
built out of part of the ruins of the great bridge. In 
1 5 12 it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on a smaller 
scale. Since then it has been restored more than once, 
and the present building is comparatively new. 

There is no legend, apparently, which associates 
the First Emperor with the territory at present 
directly administered by Great Britain, but there is a 
foolish story that connects him with Wen-teng Shan, 
a hill from which the W^n-teng district takes its name. 
It is said that having arrived at this hill the Emperor 
summoned his civil officials {wen) to ascend {ting) the 
hill in question and there proclaim to a marvelling 
world his own great exploits and virtues ; but this 
story is evidently a late invention to account for the 
name Wen-teng. Among other localities associated 
with this Emperor may be mentioned a terrace, which 
he visited for the sake of a sea-view, and a pond 


(near Jung-ch'eng city) at which His Majesty's horses 
were watered : hence the name Yin-ma-ch^ih (Drink- 
horse-pool). But the Chinese are always ready to 
invent stories to suit place-names, and seeing that 
every Chinese syllable (whether part of a name or 
not) has several meanings, the strain on the imagina- 
tive faculties is not severe. 

The feat performed by the Emperor close to the 
modern treaty-port of Chefoo— only a couple of hours' 
steaming from Weihaiwei — may be slightly more 
worthy of record than the Wen-teng legend. His first 
visit to Chih-fu (Chefoo) Hill— by which is meant one 
of the islands off the coast— is said to have taken place 
in 218 B.C., when he left a record of himself in a rock- 
inscription which — if it ever existed — has doubtless 
long ago disappeared. In 210, the last year of his 
busy life, he sent a certain Hsu Fu to gather medicinal 
herbs (or rather the herbs out of which the drug of 
immortality was made) at the Chefoo Hill. In his 
iourneys across the waters to and from the hill 
Hsu Fu was much harassed by the attacks of a mighty 
fish, and gave his imperial master a full account of 
the perils which constantly menaced him owing to 
this monster's disagreeable attentions. The Emperor, 
always ready for an adventure, immediately started 
for Chefoo, climbed the hill, caught sight of the great 
fish wallowing in the waters, and promptly shot it 
dead with his bow and arrow. 

It is natural that the Shantung Promontory and the 
eastern peninsula in general should have become the 
centre of legend and myth. We know from classical 
tradition that to the people of Europe the western 
ocean — the Atlantic — was a region of marvel. There — 
beyond the ken of ships made or manned by ordinary 
mortals — lay the Fortunate Islands, the Isles of the 
Blest. The Chinese have similar legends, but their 
Fairy Isles — P'eng-lai and Fu-sang — lay, as a matter 
of course, somewhere in the undiscovered east, about 
the shimmering region of the rising sun. Many and 


many are the Chinese dreamers and poets who have 
yearned for those islands, and have longed to pluck 
the wondrous fruit that ripened only once in three 
thousand years and then imparted a golden lustre to 
him who tasted of it. The Shantung Promontory 
became a region of marvel because it formed the 
borderland between the known and the unknown, the 
stepping-stone from the realm of prosaic fact to that 
of fancy and romance. 

The coast-line from the Promontory to Weihaiwei 
possesses no features of outstanding interest. It 
consists of long sandy beaches broken by occasional 
rocks and cliffs. The villages are small and, from the 
sea, almost invisible. Undulating hills, seldom rising 
above a thousand feet in height, but sometimes bold 
and rugged in outline, form a pleasant background. 
There are a few islets, of which one of the most 
conspicuous is Chi-ming-tao — " Cock-crow Island " — 
lying ten miles from the most easterly point of the 
Weihaiwei harbour. All the mainland from here 
onwards lies within the territory directly ruled by 
Great Britain. On the port side of the steamer as 
she enters the harbour will be seen a line of low 
cliffs crowned by a lighthouse ; on the starboard side 
lies Liukungtao, the island of Liukung. 

As in the case of Hongkong, it is the island that 
creates the harbour; and, similarly, the position 
of the island provides two entrances available at 
all times for the largest ships. The island is two 
and a quarter miles long and has a maximum 
breadth of seven-eighths of a mile and a circumfer- 
ence of five and a half miles. The eastern harbour 
entrance is two miles broad, the western entrance 
only three-quarters of a mile. The total superficial 
area of the harbour is estimated at eleven square 
miles. Under the lee of the island, which might 
be described as a miniature Hongkong, is the deep- 
water anchorage for warships, and it is here that 
the British Chin^ Squadron lies when it pays its 


annual summer visit to north China. On the island 
are situated the headquarters of the permanent 
naval establishment, the naval canteen (formerly a 
picturesque Chinese official yamcn), a United Services 
club, a few bungalows for summer visitors, an hotel, 
the offices of a few shipping firms, and several streets 
of shops kept chiefly by natives of south China and 
by Japanese. There are also the usual recreation- 
grounds, tennis-courts, and golf-links, without which 
no British colony would be able to exist. The whole 
island practically consists of one hill, which rises 
to a point (the Signal Station) 498 feet above sea-level. 
On the seaward side it ends precipitously in a fringe 
of broken cliffs, while on the landward side its gentle 
slopes are covered with streets and houses and open 

The name Liukungtao means the Island of Mr. Liu, 
and the records refer to it variously as Liu-chia-tao 
(the Island of the Liu family), as Liutao (Liu Island), 
and as Liukungtao. Who Mr. Liu was and when he 
lived is a matter of uncertainty, upon which the 
local Chinese chronicles have very little to tell us. 
" Tradition says," so writes the chronicler, " that the 
original Mr. Liu lived a very long time ago, but no 
one knows when." The principal habitation of the 
family is said to have been not on the island but at a 
village called Shih-lo-ts'un on the mainland. This 
village was situated somewhere to the south of the 
walled city. The family must have been a wealthy 
one, for it appears to have owned the island and made 
of it a summer residence or *' retreat." It was while 
residing at Shih-lo-ts'un that one of the Liu family 
made a very remarkable discovery. On the sea-shore 
he came across a gigantic decayed fish with a bone 
measuring one hundred chang in length. According 
to English measurement this monstrous creature 
must have been no less than three hundred and ninety 
yards long Liu had the mighty fish-bone carried to 
a temple in the neighbouring walled city, and there it 















1— I 


was reverently presented to the presiding deity. The 
only way to get the bone into the temple was to cut 
it up into shorter lengths. This was done, and the 
various pieces were utilised as subsidiary rafters for 
portions of the temple roof. They are still in existence, 
as any inquirer may see for himself by visiting the 
Kuan Ti temple in Weihaiwei city. Perhaps if 
Europeans insist upon depriving China of the honour 
of having invented the mariner's compass they may 
be willing to leave her the distinction of having dis- 
covered the first sea-serpent.^ 

From time immemorial there existed on the island 
a temple which contained two images representing an 
elderly gentleman and his wife. These were Liu 
Kung and Liu Mu — Father and Mother Liu. They 
afford a good example of how quite undistinguished 
men and women can in favourable circumstances 
attain the position of local deities or saints : for the 
persons represented by these two images have been 
regularly Worshipped — especially by sailors — for 
several centuries. The curious thing is that the 
deification of the old couple has taken place without 
any apparent justification from legend or myth. 
Perhaps they were a benevolent pair who were in 
the habit of ministering to the wants of shipwrecked 
sailors ; but if so there is no testimony to that effect. 
When the British Government acquired the island 
and began to make preparations for the construction 
of naval works and forts, which were never completed, 
the Chinese decided to remove the venerated images 
of Father and Mother Liu to the mainland. They 
are now handsomely housed in a new temple that 
stands between the walled city and the European 
settlement of Port Edward, and it is still the custom 
for many of the local junkmen to come here and make 
their pious offerings of money and incense, believing 
that in return for these gifts old Liu and his wife will 

' For accounts of other appearances of the " sea-serpent " in Chinese 
waters, see Dennys's Folk-lore of China, pp. 109, 113-4. 


graciously grant them good fortune at sea and freedom 
from storm and shipwreck. 

It is on the island that the majority of the British 
residents dwell, but Liukungtao does not occupy with 
respect to the mainland the same all-important and 
dominating position that Hongkong occupies (or did 
till recently occupy) with regard to the Kowloon 
peninsula and the New Territory. The seat of the 
British Government of Weihaiwei is on the mainland, 
and the small group of civil officers are far more 
busily employed in connexion with the administration 
of that part of the Territory and its 150,000 villagers 
than with the little island and its few British residents 
and native shopkeepers. The British administrative 
centre, then, is the village of Ma-t*ou, which before 
the arrival of the British was the port of the walled 
city of Weihaiwei, but is gradually becoming more 
and more European in appearance and has been 
appropriately re-named Port Edward. It lies snugly 
on the south-west side of the harbour and is well 
sheltered from storms ; the water in the vicinity of 
Port Edward is, however, too shallow for vessels 
larger than sea-going junks and small coasting- 
steamers. Ferry-launches run several times daily 
between the island and the mainland, the distance 
between the two piers being two and a half miles. 
Government House, the residence of the British Com- 
missioner, is situated on a slight eminence overlooking 
the village, and not far off are situated the Govern- 
ment Offices and the buildings occupied, until 1906, by 
the officers and men of the ist Chinese Regiment of 
Infantry. At the northern end of the village, well 
situated on a bluff overlooking the sea, is a large 
hotel : far from beautiful in outward appearance, but 
comfortable and well managed. A little further off 
stands the Weihaiwei School for European boys. It 
would be difficult anywhere in Asia to find a healthier 
place for a school, and certainly on the coast of China 
the site is peerless. 

IMAGES OF " MR. AND MRS. LIU " (sce p. 27). 

-p. 28] 


Elsewhere in the neighbourhood of Port Edward 
there are well-situated bungalows for European 
summer visitors, natural sulphur baths well managed 
by Japanese, and a small golf course. Other attrac- 
tions for Europeans are not wanting, but as these pages 
are not written for the purpose either of eulogising 
British enterprise or of attracting British visitors, 
detailed reference to them is unnecessary. 

It may be mentioned, however, that from the 
European point of view, the most pleasing feature of 
Port Edward and 'its neighbourhood is the absence of 
any large and congested centre of Chinese population. 
The city of Weihaiwei is indeed close by — only half a 
mile from the main street of Port Edward. But it is 
a city only in name, for though it possesses a battle- 
mented wall and imposing gates, it contains only a 
few quiet streets, three or four temples, an official 
yanien, wide open spaces which are a favourite resort 
of snipe, and a population of about two thousand. 

The reader may remember that when the New 
Territory was added to the Colony of Hongkong in 
1898 a clause in the treaty provided that the walled 
city of Kowloon, though completely surrounded by 
British territory, should be left under Chinese rule. 
This arrangement was due merely to the strong senti- 
mental objection of the Chinese to surrendering a 
walled city. In the case of Kowloon, as it happened, 
circumstances soon made it necessary for this part 
of the treaty to be annulled, and very soon after the 
New Territory had passed into British hands the 
Union Jack was hoisted also on the walls of Kowloon. 
When the territory of Weihaiwei was " leased " to 
Great Britain in the same eventful year (1898) a some- 
what similar agreement was made " that within the 
walled city of Weihaiwei Chinese officials shall con- 
tinue to exercise jurisdiction, except so far as may be 
inconsistent with naval and military requirements for 
the defence of the territory leased." So correct has 
been the attitude of the Chinese officials since the 


Weihaiwei Convention was signed that it has never 
been found necessary to raise any question as to the 
status of the Httle walled town. 

Nominally it is ruled by the Wen-teng magistrate, 
whose resident delegate is a hsun-chien or sub-district 
deputy magistrate ; ^ but as the hsun-chien has no 
authority an inch beyond the city walls, and in practice 
is perfectly ready to acknowledge British authority in 
such matters as sanitation (towards the expenses of 
which he receives a small subsidy from the British 
Government), it may be easily understood why this 
imperium in impcrio has not hitherto led to friction or 

A walk round the well-preserved walls of Weihaiwei 
city affords a good view of the surroundings of Port 
Edward and the contour of the sea-coast bordering on 
the harbour. At the highest point of the city wall 
stands a little tower called the Huan-ts*ui-lou, the 
view from which has for centuries past been much 
praised by the local bards. It was built in the Ming 
dynasty by a military official named Wang, as a spot 
from which he might observe the sunrise and enjoy 
the sea view. From here can be seen, at favourable 
times, a locally-celebrated mirage (called by the 
Chinese a " market in the ocean ") over and beyond 
the little islet of Jih-tao or Sun Island, which lies 
between Liukungtao and the mainland. The view 
from this tower is very pleasing, though one need not 
be prepared to endorse the ecstatic words of a senti- 
mental captain from the Wen-teng camp, who closed 
a little poem of his own with the words *' How 
entrancing is this fair landscape : this must indeed be 
Fairyland ! " 

Many of the most conspicuous hills in the northern 
portion of the Territory can be seen to advantage 
from the Huan-ts'ui-lou. The small hill immediately 
behind the city wall and the tower is the Nai-ku-shan.^ 

• See pp. 53 and 36. 

* Shan is the Chinese word for " Hill." 






I— ( 






Like many other hills in the neighbourhood and along 
the coast, it possesses the remains of a stone-built 
beacon-tumulus {feng tun), on which signal fires were 
lighted in the old days of warfare. To the northward 
lie Ku-mo Shan, the hill of Yao-yao, and Tiao-wo 
Shan, all included in the range that bears in the 
British map the name of Admiral Fitzgerald. 

The highest point of the range is described in the 
local chronicle as " a solitary peak, seldom visited by 
human foot," though it is nowadays a common ob- 
jective for European pedestrians, and also, indeed, 
for active Chinese children. The height is barely one 
thousand feet above sea-level. Tiao-wo Shan and a 
neighbouring peak called Sung Ting Shan were re- 
sorted to by hundreds of the inhabitants of Weihaiwei 
as a place of refuge from the bands of robbers and 
disorganised soldiers who pillaged the homes and 
fields of the people during the commotions which 
marked the last year of the Ming dynasty (1643). To 
the northward of the Huan-ts'ui-lou may be seen a 
little hill — not far from the European bungalows at 
Narcissus Bay — crowned with a small stone obelisk 
of a kind often seen in China and known to foreigners 
as a Confucian Pencil. This was put up by a graduate 
of the present dynasty named Hsia Shih-yen and 
others, as a means of bringing good luck to the 
neighbourhood, and also, perhaps, as a memorial of 
their own literary abilities and successes. It bears 
no inscription. 

A loftier hill is Lao-ya Shan, which is or used to 
be the principal resort of the local officials and people 
when offering up public supplications for rain. Its 
name (which means the Hill of the Crows) is derived 
from the black clouds which as they cluster round 
the summit are supposed to resemble the gathering 
of crows. An alternative name is Hsi-yu-ting — the 
Happy Rain Peak. The highest point in this section 
of the Territory lies among the imposing range of 
mountains to the south of Weihaiwei city, and is 


known to the Chinese as Fo-erh-ting — ** Buddha's 
Head" — the height of which is about 1,350 feet. This 
range of hills has been named by the British after 
Admiral Sir Edward Seymour. 

The enumeration of all the hills of so mountainous 
a district as the Weihaiwei Territory would be useless 
and of little interest. Some of them, distinguished by 
miniature temples dedicated to the Shan-shcn (Spirit 
of the Hill) and to the Supreme God of Taoism, will 
be referred to later on.^ The loftiest hill in the 
Territory — about 1,700 feet — lies fourteen miles south 
of Port Edward, and is known to Europeans as Mount 
Macdonald, and to the Chinese as Cheng-ch'i Shan 
or Cho-ch'i Shan.- The Chinese name is derived 
from a stone chess-board said to have been carved 
out of a rock by a hsieii-jen, a kind of wizard or 
mountain recluse who lived there in bygone ages. 
Most of the more remarkable or conspicuous hills 
in China are believed by the people to have been the 
abode of weird old men who never came to an end 
like ordinary people, but went on living with absurdly 
long beards and a profound knowledge of nature's 
secrets. There are endless legends about these mys- 
terious beings, many of whom were in fact hermits 
with a distaste for the commonplace joys of life and 
a passion for mountain scenery,^ 

On the rocky summit of the Li-k'ou hill (situated 
in the range of which Fo-erh-ting is the highest 
point) there is a large stone which is symmetrical in 
shape and differs in appearance from the surrounding 
boulders. Legend says that a hermit who cultivated 
the occult arts brewed for himself on the top of the 
hill the elixir of life. An ox that was employed in 
grinding wheat at the foot of the hill sniffed the 
fragrant brew and broke away from his tether. 
Rushing up the hill in hot haste, he dragged after 
him the great grindstone. Arriving at the summit, he 
butted against the cauldron in which the hermit had 

^ See pp. 391 seq. * See pp. 397-8. ' See pp. 393 seq. 


cooked the soup of immortality, and eagerly lapped 
up the liquid as it trickled down the side. The 
hermit, emulating an ancient worthy called Kou 
Shan-chih who was charioted on the wings of a 
crane, jumped on the ox's back, and thereupon the 
two immortal beings, leaving the grindstone behind 
them as a memorial, passed away to heaven and were 
seen no more. This is only one of many quaint 
stories told by the old folks of Weihaiwei to explain 
the peculiar formation of a rock, the existence of a 
cave in a cliff, or the sanctity of some nameless 
mountain-shrine. Thus even the hills of Weihaiwei, 
bare of forests as they are and devoid of mystery 
as they would seem to be, have yet their gleam of 
human interest, their little store of romance, their 
bond of kinship with the creative mind of man. 



Though Chinese historians have never set themselves 
to solve that modern European problem as to whether 
history is or is not a science, they have always — or 
at least since the days of Confucius— had a strong 
sense of its philosophical significance and its didactic 
value. Of the writings with which the name of 
Confucius is connected, that known as the Ch^wi ChHu 
or " Spring and Autumn Annals" is the one that he 
himself considered his greatest achievement, and 
Mencius assures us that when the iVIaster had written 
this historical work, "rebellious ministers and bad 
sons were struck with terror." The modern reader 
is perhaps apt to wonder what there was in the jerky, 
disconnected statements of the Ch'iin Ch^iu to terrify 
any one, however conscience-stricken ; but Mencius's 
remark shows that history was already regarded as 
a serious employment, well fitted to engage the 
attention of philosophers and teachers of the people. 
For a long time, indeed, practice lagged a long way 
behind theory. There is some reason to suppose that 
Confucius himself was not above adapting facts to 
suit his political opinions, which shows that history 
had not yet secured for itself a position of great 
dignity. The oldest historical work in the language 
is the Shu Cliing, which is believed to have been 
edited by Confucius. Certainly the sage's study of 



this work does not seem to have inspired him with 
any lofty theories as to how history ought to be 
treated, for his own work is considerably balder and 
less interesting than the old one. The Confucian 
who wrote the historical commentary known as the 
Tso-chuan improved upon his master's methods very 
greatly, and his work can be read with pleasure at 
the present day; but the first great Chinese historian 
did not appear till the second century b.c. in the 
person of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. For several reasons it 
would be incorrect to style him the Herodotus of 
China, but he may at least be regarded as the father 
of the modern art of historical writing in that 

Yet his example did not bring about the abolition 
of the old methods of the dry-bones annalists ; for 
while the writers of the great Dynastic Histories have 
been careful to imitate and if possible improve upon 
his advanced style and method, and have thus pro- 
duced historical works which for fidelity to truth, 
comprehensiveness, and literary workmanship will 
often bear comparison with similar productions in 
Europe, the compilers of the innumerable local his- 
tories have almost invariably contented themselves 
with legends, fairy-tales, and the merest chronicle of 
notable events arranged under the heads of successive 
years. The enormous quantity of these local histories 
may be realised from the fact that each province, 
prefecture and district, as well as each famous lake 
and each celebrated mountain, has one of its own. 

These works are often very voluminous : an account 
of a single famous mountain, with its monasteries, 

' A writer in the Historians' Histoty of the World, published by 
The Times (see vol. xxiv. p. 683), says of the Chinese, that "up to 
the advent of Europeans in the sixteenth century a.d. their records 
are untrustworthy." This is an erroneous and most extraordinary 
statement. The Chinese possessed valuable and, on the whole, 
reliable records centuries before a single one of the modern States 
of Europe had begun even to furnish material for history, far less 
produce trustworthy historical records of its own. 


sometimes extends over a dozen separate books ; and 
the account of Ssuch'uan, a single province, is not 
far short of two hundred volumes in length. These 
productions are not, indeed, only of an historical and 
legendary nature : they include full topographical 
information, elaborate descriptions of cities, temples, 
and physical features, separate chapters on local 
customs, natural productions and distinguished men 
and women, and anthologies of the best poems and 
essays descriptive of special features of interest or 
inspired by the local scenery. 

On legends and folk-lore and anything that seems 
in any way marvellous or miraculous, the compiler 
lingers long and lovingly ; but when he comes to the 
narrative of definite historical facts he is apparently 
anxious to get over that dry but necessary part of 
his labours as rapidly as possible, and so gives us 
but a bare enumeration of the events in the order 
of their occurrence, and in the briefest and most 
direct manner possible. 

As a rule, his succinctly-stated matters of fact may 
be regarded as thoroughly reliable. When a Chinese 
annalist states that in the year 990 there was a serious 
famine at Weihaiwei, the reader may take it for 
granted that the famine undoubtedly occurred, how- 
ever uninstructive the fact may be in the opinion of 
those who live nearly a thousand years later. What 
is apt to strike one as inexplicable is the occasional 
appearance, in a list of prosaic details which may be 
accepted as generally reliable, of some statement 
which suggests that the compiler must have suddenly 
lost control of his senses. For instance, we read in 
the Wen-tmg Chih or Annals of the district in which 
the greater part of Weihaiwei is situated, that in the 
year which corresponds with 1539 there were dis- 
astrous floods, and that in the autumn a large dragon 
suddenly made its appearance in a private dwelling. 
" It burst the walls of the house," says the chronicler, 
" and so got away ; and then there was a terrific 


hailstorm." Why such startling absurdities are in- 
troduced into a narrative that is generally devoid of 
the least imaginative sparkle, may be easily under- 
stood when w^e remember that such animals as 
dragons, phoenixes and unicorns and many other 
strange creatures were believed in (or at least their 
existence was not questioned) by educated Chinese 
up to a quite recent date ; and the writer of the 
Wen-teng Cliili^ when noting down remarkable occur- 
rences as they were brought to his notice, saw no 
reason whatever why he should doubt the appearance 
of the dragon any more than he should doubt the 
reality of the floods or the hailstorm. That the 
dragon episode could not have happened because 
dragons did not exist was no more likely to occur 
to the honest Chinese chronicler than a doubt about 
the real existence of a personal Devil and a fiery Hell 
was likely to beset a pious Scottish Presbyterian of 
the eighteenth century, or than a disbelief in the 
creation of the world in six days in the year 4004 B.C. 
was likely to disturb the minds of the pupils of 
Archbishop Ussher. 

The Chinese chronicles from which we derive our 
knowledge of the past history of Weihaiwei and the 
adjacent country are those of Wen-teng in four 
volumes, Jung-ch'eng in four, Ning-hai in six and 
Weihaiwei (that is, the Wei of Weihai) in two. The 
first three are printed from wooden blocks in the 
usual old-fashioned Chinese style, and this means that 
recently-printed copies are far less clear and legible 
than the first impressions, which are unfortunately 
difficult to obtain ; the last (that of Weihaiwei) seems 
to exist in manuscript only, and is consequently very 
rare. It is from these four works chiefly, though not 
solely, that the information given in the rest of this 
chapter, as in many other parts of the book, has been 
culled ; and while endeavouring to include only such 
details as are likely to be of some interest to the 
European reader, I trust there will be enough to 


give him an accurate idea not only of the history 
of Weihaiwei but also of that prodigious branch 
of Chinese literature of which these works are 

The traditions of Weihaiwei and its neighbourhood 
take us back to the days of myth. The position of 
this region at the end of a peninsula which formed, 
so far as China knew, the eastern limit of the civilised 
world, made it, as we have seen, the fitting birthplace 
of legend and marvel. Not content with taking us 
back to the earliest days of eastern Shantung as a 
habitable region, the legends assure us of a time when 
it was completely covered by the ocean. Thousands 
of years ago, it is said, a Chinese princess was 
drowned there.^ She was then miraculously turned 
into a bird called a ching wet, and devoted herself in 
her new state of existence to wreaking vengeance 
on the cruel sea for having cut short her human life. 
This she did by flying to and fro between land and 
sea carrying stones in her beak and dropping them 
into the water one by one until, by degrees, they 
emerged above the surface and formed dry land. 
Thus her revenge for the drowning incident was 
complete : she punished the sea by annihilating it. 

For many centuries— and in this matter history 
and legend coincide — the peninsular district of Shan- 
tung, including Weihaiwei, was inhabited by a non- 
Chinese race of barbarians. Not improbably they 
were among the aboriginal inhabitants of the central 
plains of China, who were driven west, south and 
east before the steady march of the invading Chinese, 
or — if we prefer to believe that the latter were an 
autochthonous race — by the irresistible pressure of 

• This story is related in that ancient book of marvels the Skan 
Hat Ching {"W'lW and Sea Classic"). The princess is there said to 
have been the daughter of the mythical Emperor Shen-nung (twenty- 
eighth century B.C.). As a ching wei, the princess is said to have had 
a white bill and red claws and to have been in appearance something 
like a crow. 


Chinese expansion. The eastward-driven section of 
the aborigines, having been pressed into far-distant 
Shantung, perhaps discovered that unless they made 
a stand there they would be driven into the sea 
and exterminated ; so they held their ground and 
adapted themselves to the new conditions like the 
Celts in Wales and Strathclyde, while the Chinese, 
observing that the country was hilly, forest-clad, 
and not very fertile, swept away to the richer and 
more tempting plains of the south-west. 

This may or may not be a correct statement of what 
actually occurred : all we know for certain is that at 
the dawn of the historical epoch eastern Shantung 
was still inhabited by a people whom the Chinese 
regarded as uncouth foreigners. The name given to 
them in the Shu Chiiig is Yu I, words which, if they 
are to be translated at all, may be rendered as " the 
barbarians of the hill regions." The period to which 
the Shti Ching assigns them is that of the more or 
less mythical Emperors Yao, Shun and Yu, whose 
reigns are assigned to the twenty-third and twenty- 
fourth centuries b.c, the Chinese Golden Age. An 
alternative view of the Yu I is that they were not 
the people of eastern Shantung, but the inhabitants of 
one of the Japanese islands. Dr. Legge, again, took 
the view that Ch'ing Chou, one of the nine provinces 
into which the Emperor Yu divided the Empire, 
included the modern kingdom of Korea. As the Yu I 
are always referred to as inhabiting the most easterly 
portion of the Empire, Dr. Legge was obliged to 
assign them to some part of the Korean peninsula ' ; 
following certain Chinese writers, moreover, he took 
Yu I to be a place-name, though this surely can only 
have been by the transference of the name or nickname 
of a people to their place of habitation. The whole 
question is hardly worth discussing, for it is almost 
impossible to disentangle fact from myth in respect of 
any of the alleged events of that far-off age ; though, 
' See Legge's Chinese Classics, vol. iii, pt, i, pp. 18 and 102-3. 


on the whole, it seems improbable that Yu's Empire — 
presuming that Yii was an historical personage — ever 
extended as far as some patriotic Chinese commentators 
would like to make out, or ever included any portion 
of either Korea or Japan. The great K'ang Hsi 
dictionary definitely states that the Yii I country " is 
the present Teng-chou," which includes the north- 
eastern section of Shantung all the way to the 
Promontory. The dictionary also describes it as 
" the place where the sun rises." An interesting 
point in connection with the Yii I is that it was to 
their country that the Emperor Yao (2357 ^.c.) is said 
to have sent one of the Imperial Astronomers to 
" observe the heavens." The heavens of those days 
must have been well worth observing, for Chinese 
legends say there were then ten suns,^ which all rose 
out of a prodigious abyss of hot water. At one time, 
it was said, nine of the suns sat every day in the lower 
branches of a great tree that grew in the land of 
Fu-sang, and one sat on the topmost branch ; but 
in the time of Yao all the suns climbed up together to 
the top of the tree and made everything so uncomfort- 
ably hot that the Emperor shot at them and succeeded 
in destroying nine. Since then the world has had to 
content itself with a single sun.' 

Assuming that the ordinary interpretations of the 
Shu Cliing are correct, it appears that in the Golden 
Age of Yao the office of Astronomer-Royal, as we 
should say, was an exclusive perquisite of two families 
surnamed Hsi and Ho. Four members of these 

' Ten was a sort of mystic number with the ancient Chinese. Lao 
Tzii, the " Old Philosopher," for instance, is supposed to have had ten 
lines on each hand and ten toes on each foot. 

' These superstitions, which are treated seriously in the Shan Hat 
Chingy are referred to in the Lun Hcng of W^ang Ch'ung, a writer of 
the first century a.d. Wang Ch'ung decided that the ten suns could 
not have been real suns, for if they had been in a Hot Water Abyss 
they would have been extinguished, because water puts out fire ; and 
if they had climbed a tree their heat would have scorched the branches ! 
(See Forke's transl. of Lun Heng, Luzac & Co: 1907, pp. 271 seq.) 


privileged families were sent to establish observatories 
in the four quarters of the Empire, east, west, south, 
and north, in order that they might " deliver respect- 
fully the seasons to the people." The passage of the 
Sim Ching in which this matter is mentioned ^ is of 
great scientific interest on account of its astronomical 
details, and of great importance as establishing the 
reliability of early Chinese records. The only point 
that concerns us here is that one of the astronomers — 
namely, the second of three of the privileged Ho 
brothers — was sent to a tract of country called Yang 
Ku — " the Valley of Sunlight " — in the territory of the 
Yii I. His special duty it was to " receive as a guest 
the rising sun, and to adjust and arrange the labours 
of the Spring." Monopoly and absence of competition 
seem to have had their inevitable result ; the privi- 
leged families of Hsi and Ho fell into utter disgrace, 
and were charged with having " neglected the ordering 
of the seasons and allowed the days to get into 
confusion," — and all this because they gave themselves 
up to the pleasures of wine and female society instead 
of keeping a careful watch on the movements of the 
heavenly bodies. The Hsi and Ho had evidently 
become magnates of no small importance, for it was 
necessary to send an army to punish them. Their 
main offence, as we gather from the Shu Ching^ was 
that they made some sad blunder in connection with 
an eclipse, and the penalty attached to an offence 
of this nature was death. The only point with 
reference to all this that bears upon our subject is 
that the eastern observatory, presided over by one 
of the Ho family, was probably situated somewhere 
in the extreme eastern part of the Shantung peninsula : 
and though it is open to sceptics to declare that the 
astronomer, the observatory, and the Emperor himself 
were all figments of the Chinese imagination, it is 
equally open to any one to hold, though quite im- 

' See Legge's Chinese Classics, vol. iii, pt. I, pp. 18-23, 
* Ibid., vol. iii. pt. i, pp. 162 seq. 


possible for him to prove, tiiat the Yang Ku — the 
Vale of Sunlight — was no other than the sandy strip 
of sun-bleached territory that lies between the sombre 
rocks of the Shantung Promontory and the most 
easterly hills of Weihaiwei.^ 

Whether the people of this district were or were 
not called the Barbarians of the Hill Regions at the 
dawn of Chinese history, or whether in their territory 
there was or was not a place called the Vale of Sun- 
light, does not affect the undoubted truth of the state- 
ment that the Shantung peninsula was up to historic 
times inhabited by a race, or the remnants of a race, 
that was not Chinese, We may be sure, from what 
we know of the boundaries and inter-relations of the 
various Chinese states in the Confucian epoch (that is, 
the sixth century B.C.), that if Confucius himself had 
travelled from his native state of Lu through that of 
Ch'i and so on in a north-easterly direction until he 
reached the sea, he would have been obliged to engage 
an interpreter to enable him to communicate with the 
inhabitants of the district we now know as Weihaiwei. 

We may presume without rashness that as time 
went on these Eastern barbarians gradually assimi- 
lated themselves with, or were assimilated by, their 
civilised Chinese neighbours. The process was pro- 
bably a long one, for we do not hear of the establish- 
ment of ordinary Chinese civil government until the 
epoch of the Han dynasty, about 200 b.c. Perhaps 
the legendary journeys of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, the 
" First Emperor," which, as we have seen, are 
supposed to have taken place a few years earlier, 
really represent some great military achievement 
whereby the far-eastern barbarians were for the first 
time brought under the Chinese yoke. The local 

' The Shan Hai Ching mentions an island in the Wen-teng district, 
off the south-east coast, called Su-men-tao, which still bears that name ; 
and describes it as jih yileh so chHt — "the place where the sun and 
moon rise." This part of the ocean, though not the island itself, is 
visible from the sandy strip mentioned in the text 


annals mention the fact that durhig the Chou dynasty, 
which preceded that of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti and held 
the throne of China from 1122 b.c. to 255 b.c, the 
present district of Wen-teng (including Weihaiwei) 
formed part of the Mou-tzu country ; but it must have 
been an independent or semi-independent state, for 
no Chinese administrators are mentioned. Later on 
there was an hereditary marquisate of Mou-p'ing, 
which extended over much of the country we are 

The dynasty founded by the " First Emperor " 
divided the whole Empire as it then was into thirty- 
six chiin or provinces, and Wen-teng formed part of 
the Ch'i province. At last, in the sixth year of Kao 
Tsu of the Han dynasty (201 b.c), a Chinese magisterial 
district was founded in the eastern peninsula for the 
first time, though the city chosen as the centre of 
government was not Wen-teng but a place called 
Pu-yeh-ch'eng, and the listen or magisterial district 
was accordingly known as Pu-yeh-Hsien. This city, 
which is said ^ to have been founded by one Lai-tzu 
in the " Spring and Autumn " period twenty-five 
centuries ago, is now a small village in the modern 
Jung-ch'eng district, a short distance from the British 
frontier on the Chinese side, and whatever glory it 
may once have possessed has totally departed. The 
origin of the name, which means ** Nightless," is 
unknown, though naturally one would like to connect 
it in some way with the Sunlit Vale of the astronomer 
Ho. The new hsien city was assigned to the prefecture 
of Tung-lai, then the most easterly prefecture in the 

From this time onward all the north-eastern part of 
Shantung, including the districts with which we are 
speciall}^ concerned, remained under the civil adminis- 
tration of China. From time to time various changes 
were made in the seat of district-government and in 
the boundaries of the prefectures, but these it would 
' See the T'ai Ping Huan Yil Chi {chilan 20), 


be superfluous to follow in detail. In the fourth year 
of T'ien T'ung (568 of our era), Wen-teng city became 
the magistrate's headquarters, and the district was 
placed in the Ch'ang-kuang prefecture under the name 
of Wen-teng-shan Hsien. Early in the period K'ai 
Huang (581-600), the abolished Ch'ang-kuang pre- 
fecture gave place to Mou Chou, and Wen-teng was 
placed in the Tung-lai prefecture, to which Pu-yeh 
had formerly been assigned. Passing over many 
similar administrative changes of no special signifi- 
cance we come to the Ming dynasty, which began to 
reign in 1368, In the ninth year of Hung Wu (1376) 
the present prefecture of Teng-chou was created. 
Both Wen-teng and Ning-hai districts were assigned 
to the new prefecture and have remained under its 
jurisdiction ever since. 

Before Jung-ch'eng (in the neighbourhood of the 
Shantung Promontory) was made a separate magistracy, 
which was not till 1735, the position of Wen-teng was 
most responsible and often perilous, for it faced the 
sea on three sides — north, east, and south. The 
chronic danger that menaced these shores came from 
the restless Japanese. From the time of the Northern 
Wei dynasty (401 of our era) onwards, the Chinese 
Government found it necessary to take special measures 
for the protection of the Shantung coasts from Japanese 
pirates. Elaborate military precautions, say the 
records, were taken in 742, during the epoch of the 
mighty T'ang dynasty, and again in 1040 (Sung 
dynasty) and in 1341 (Yuan dynasty). The failure 
of the warlike Mongols (who founded the last-named 
dynasty) when they took to over-sea expeditions, is 
no less remarkable than their wonderful successes 
on land. The armadas despatched in 1274 and in 1281 
by the great Kublai Khan for the purpose of reducing 
to obedience the refractory Japanese has been spoken 
of as an unwarranted attack on the liberty of a free 
and gallant people, which met with well-deserved 
failure ; but when we know how the pirates of Japan 


had repeatedly harassed the coasts of China and, more 
particularly, had made innumerable murderous attacks 
on the helpless farmers and fishermen of the eastern 
coasts of Shantung, an entirely new light is thrown 
upon Kublai's Japanese policy. 

The whole history of Asia and of the world might 
have been changed (perhaps for the worse, but not 
necessarily so) if the mighty Mongol fleet that set 
sail for Japan in 1281 had not been scattered by hostile 
winds and waves and defeated by its brave human 
adversaries. This was the only serious attempt ever 
made by China to conquer Japan, and though the 
Chinese dynasty of that day had carried its victorious 
arms through a great part of the Euro-Asiatic continent 
it utterly failed in its efforts to reduce to vassalage 
the island Empire of the East. Yet it was not always 
Japan that represented enlightenment and civilisation: 
it was not always China that stood for stagnation and 
barbarism. When Kublai sent envoys to Japan in 
1275 and in 1279 they were not treated with the 
courtesy that the world has in more recent years 
learned to expect from the natives of Japan : they 
were simply deprived of their heads. 

The disasters to their fleets appear to have dis- 
couraged the Chinese from again trying their fortunes 
on the ocean ; while the Japanese, always intrepid 
sailors and fighters, re-entered with zest into the profit- 
able occupation of raiding the coasts of China and 
robbing her of her sea-borne merchandise. *' The 
spacious days of great Elizabeth," made glorious for 
England by knightly freebooters and gentleman 
pirates, were to some extent anticipated in the north- 
western Pacific during the twelfth and succeeding 
centuries of our era. Japan took more than ample 
revenge for the insult offered her by the great Kublai. 
The whole coast-line of China lay open to her attacks 
and she utilised the situation to the utmost, but it was 
north-eastern Shantung that suffered most of all. For 
a long time the people of Wen-teng and neighbouring 


districts, who were only poor fisher-folk and farmers, 
sparse in numbers, vainly implored the Government 
to save them from their miseries and protect them 
from the sea-rovers. The measures hitherto fitfully 
employed to safeguard the coast had been repeatedly 
shown to be inadequate. Soon after the commence- 
ment of the Ming period (1368) the Imperial Govern- 
ment at last began to make a serious effort to keep 
inviolate the shores of the Empire and to succour the 
people who " had in the past suffered grievous hurt," 
so runs a Chinese account of the matter, " from the 
pestilent outrages committed by the rascally Dwarfs." 

It may be mentioned that in the Chronicles of 
Wen-teng and Weihaiwei the Japanese are never 
referred to except as IVo or Wo-jm, which literally 
means Dwarfs. This term was not current only 
among the unlettered classes : it was regularly em- 
ployed in official documents and memorials intended 
for the inspection of the Shantung Provincial Govern- 
ment.^ A great Chinese geographical work published 
in the tenth century of our era is even more un- 
complimentary, for it states ^ that " since the later 
Han dynasty [which reigned from 25 to 220 a.d.] the 
country [Japan] has been known as that of the Dwarf- 
slave country," and it gives details as to the tribute 
said to have been paid by Japan to China for a period 
of many centuries. 

The new defensive measures taken by the Govern- 
ment consisted in the establishment of Military Districts 
{Wei)^ at various strategic points round the coast of 
Shantung. Of these Districts Weihaiwei was one and 
Ch'eng Shan was another. These two Wei were 

' The offensive appellation is preserved to this day in the name of a 
small island 120 //south-west of the Shantung Promontory, known as 
Dwarfs' Island. The term is still frequently used by the people, and 
it often occurred in formal petitions addressed to my own Court until 
I expressly forbade, under penalty, its further use. 

* T'ai P'ing Huaii Yu Chi, 174th chiian, pp. -^seq 

* See pp. 12 seq. 


Photo by I- iti! >iii i^coii t. M. liraiiiuii, A'..V. 

the'author and tommie on the quork's peak (see p. 397)- 

(vSunitnit of INIount llacdoiiald.) 
p. 4 61 


created in 1398, thirty years after the establishment 
of the Ming dynasty. The carrying out of the project 
was entrusted to two high officials, one of whom took 
up his temporary residence on Liukungtao. A wall 
was built a few years later (1403) round the village 
of Weihai, the modern Weihaiwei '* city," and the 
headquarters of Ch'eng-shan-wei, known to us as the 
town of Jung-ch'eng, was similarly raised to the dignity 
of a walled city. Military colonies — that is, bands of 
soldiers who were allowed to take up agricultural land 
and to found families — were brought into every Wei 
under the command of various leaders, the chief of 
whom were known as chih-hui. This title, generally 
applied to the chiefs of certain non-Chinese tribes, 
was in many cases hereditary. Even in Weihai, 
Ning-hai and Ch'eng-shan the chih-hui were petty 
military chieftains rather than regular military officers. 
There were other commanders known as // ssu, chHen- 
hu and pai-hn^ all of which titles — being generally 
applied to petty tribal chiefs — were probably selected 
in order to emphasise the two facts that the Wei 
system was extraneous to the general scheme of 
Chinese civil and military administration and that 
the officers of a Wei were not only soldiers but also 
exercised a general jurisdiction, civil as well as 
military, over the aff'airs of the Wei and its soldier- 

The Chinese Government has always done its best, 
in the interests of peace and harmony and general 
good order, to inculcate in the minds of its subjects 
a reverence for civil authority. Hence, besides ap- 
pointing a number of military officials whose enthu- 
siasm for their profession might lead them to an 
exaggerated notion of the dignity of the arts of war, 
the Government also appointed 3.Jh Hsiieh, or Director 
of Confucian studies, such as existed in every civil 

' For notices concerning the ch'iefi-hti and pai-hu of the tribes of far- 
western China at the present day, see the author's Frotn Pekjtig to 
Mandalay (John Murray : 1908), pp. 172, 176, 190, 425-7, 429. 


magistracy. To render the ultimate civil control more 
effective the Wei were at first regarded as nominally 
under the civil jurisdiction of the appropriate magis- 
tracies : Weihaiwei thus remained an integral part 
of Wen-teng Hsien. A change was made apparently 
on the recommendation of the magistrate of Wen-teng 
himself, who pointed out the failure of the joint- 
administration of Hsien and Wei and said that " the 
existing system whereby the Magistracy controls the 
Wei is much less convenient than a system whereby 
each Wei would look after itself" — subject of course 
to the ultimate control of the higher civil authorities. 
From the year 1659, then, that is sixty-one years after 
the first establishment of the Wei system, Hsien and 
Wei were treated as two entirely separate jurisdictions, 
neither having any authority over the other. This 
was the system that remained in force from that time 
onward until the final abolition of the Wei in 1735. 

The main object in establishing these Wei was, 
as we have seen, to provide some eflfective means of 
repelling the persistent attacks of Japanese raiders. 
In this object the authorities appear to have been 
only moderately successful. " When the sea-robbers 
heard of what had been done," says one exultant 
writer, " they betook themselves a long way off and 
dared not cast any more longing looks at our coast ; 
and thus came peace to hundreds and thousands of 
people. No more intermittent alarms and disorders, 
no more panics and stampedes for the people of 
Weihai ! " This view of the situation was .unduly 
rosy, for in the fourth year of the reign Ming Yung 
Lo (1406) — only eight years after the creation of the 
several Wei — the Japanese (M^o k'ovi, " Dwarf-pirates ") 
effected a landing at Liukungtao, and additional troops 
had to be summoned from long distances before they 
could be expelled. Two years later — as if to show 
their contempt for one Wei after another — they landed 
in force at Ch'eng-shan, and though they did not 
succeed in capturing the new walled city of Ch'eng- 


shan-wei they overwhelmed the garrisons of two 
neighbouring forts. These daring raids resulted in 
an increase and reorganisation of the troops attached 
to each Wei, and in the appointment of an officer with 
the quaint title of" Captain charged with the duty of 
making preparations against the Dwarfs." Hence- 
forward the forts under each Wei were known as 
•' Dwarf-catching Stations," while the soldiers were 
" Dwarf-catchers." It is not explained what happened 
to the Dwarfs when caught, but there is no reason to 
suppose they were treated with undue leniency. It 
is perhaps well for the self-respect of the Chinese 
that the Wei establishments had been abolished long 
before the capture of Weihai by the Japanese in 1895, 
otherwise the Catchers would have found themselves 
in the ignoble position of the Caught. 

We have seen that the city wall of Weihaiwei was 
first built in 1403. The troops were stationed within 
the city and also in barracks erected at the various 
beacon-posts and forts which lined the coast to east 
and west, but considerable numbers in times of peace 
lived on their farms in the neighbourhood and only 
took up arms when specially summoned. The official 
quarters of the commandant of the Wei — the prin- 
cipal chih-hni — were in the yamen which is now the 
residence of the Chinese deputy-magistrate. The num- 
ber of troops under his charge seems to have varied 
according to the exigencies of the moment, but it is 
recorded that Weihaiwei was at first (at the end of 
the fourteenth century) provided with a garrison of 
two thousand soldiers, which number was gradually 
increased. The area of the Wei — including the lands 
devoted to direct military uses and those farmed by 
the military colonists — was probably considerably 
less than one hundred square miles in extent, and 
embraced a part of the most northerly (peninsular) 
portion of the territory now administered by Great 

It was not only from foreign " barbarians " that the 



inhabitants of Wen-teng had to fear attack. Their 
own lawless countrymen were sometimes no less 
daring and ruthless than the Japanese. Those that 
came by sea were, indeed, foreigners in the eyes of 
the people of Shantung, for most of them came from 
the provinces south of the Yangtse and spoke dialects 
quite incomprehensible in the north. During the 
Chia-ching period (1522-66) a Chinese pirate named 
Wang Hsien-wu seized the island of Liukung, within 
full view of the soldiers of the Wei, and maintained 
himself there with such ease and comfort that he built 
fifty-three houses for his pirate band and took toll of 
all junks that passed in and out of the harbour. He 
was finally dislodged by a warlike Imperial Censor, 
who after his main work was accomplished made a 
careful survey of the arable land of the island and 
had it put under cultivation by soldier-farmers. This 
useful work was again pursued with energy rather 
more than half a century later, when in 1619 the 
prefect T'ao Lang-hsien admitted a few immigrants 
to the island and enrolled them as payers of land-tax. 
With a view to their better protection against further 
sudden attacks from pirates he established on the 
island a system of signal-beacons. 

The last year or two of the Ming dynasty (1642-3) 
was a troublous and anxious time for all peace-loving 
Chinese. The events that led to the expulsion of the 
Mings and the establishment of the present (Manchu) 
dynasty on the Chinese throne are too well known to 
need detailed mention. A great part of the Empire 
was the prey of roving bands of rebels and brigands, 
one of whom — a remarkable adventurer named Li 
Tzu-ch'eng — after repeatedly defeating the imperial 
troops finally made himself master of the city of 
Peking. The last Emperor of the Ming dynasty, 
overwhelmed with shame and grief, hanged himself 
within the palace grounds. The triumph of Li was 
short-lived, for the warlike tribes of Manchuria, readily 
accepting an invitation from the Chinese imperialist 


commander-in-chief to cross the frontier and drive 
out the presumptuous rebels, soon made themselves 
supreme in the capital and in the Empire. The con- 
dition of the bulk of the Chinese people during this 
time of political ferment was pitiable in the extreme. 
Military leaders, unable to find money to pay their 
troops, neither could nor would prevent them from 
committing acts of pillage and murder. Bands of 
armed robbers, many of them ex-soldiers, roamed 
over the land unchecked, leaving behind them a trail 
of fire and blood. 

Confining our attention to the districts with which 
we are specially concerned, we find that a band of 
brigands took by assault the walled city of Ch'eng- 
shan, while at Weihaiwei the conduct of the local 
troops was so disorderly that civilians with their 
wives and families had to abandon their fields and 
homes and flee for refuge to the tops of hills.^ The 
chih-hni in command of the local Wei at this mo- 
mentous time, coming to the conclusion that the 
dynasty was tottering and that the seals of office 
issued by the Ming Emperors would shortly bring 
disaster on their possessors, deserted his post and 
sought a dishonoured refuge at home. It was not 
for several years afterwards that the distracted people 
of Weihaiwei, or such of them as had survived the 
miseries of those terrible days, once more found them- 
selves in possession of their ancestral farms and 
reasonably secure from rapine and outrage. 

The strong rule of the early Ta Ch'ing Emperors 
(the Manchu dynasty) had its natural eff'ect throughout 
the whole country. Law-abiding folk enjoyed the 
fruits of their industry without molestation, while 
robbers and pirates found their trade both more 
dangerous and less profitable than in the good old 
days of political disorder. Yet it was not to be sup- 
posed that even the great days of K'ang Hsi and his 
two remarkable successors were totally unmarked by 

'See p. 31. 


occasional troubles for the people of so remote and 
exposed a section of the Empire as north-eastern 
Shantung. The year 1703, say the local annals, was 
a disastrous one, for floods in spring and a drought 
in summer were followed in autumn by the arrival at 
Weihaiwei of shiploads of Chinese pirates. Soldiers 
from the neighbouring camps of Ning-hai, Fu-shan 
(Chefoo) and Wen-teng had to be sent for to assist 
the local garrison in beating them off. Nine years 
later, on the seventeenth day of the tenth month, 
pirates arrived at the island of Chi-ming,^ whereupon 
a great fight ensued in which a brave and distinguished 
Chinese commander lost his life. 

An important year for the districts we are con- 
sidering was 1735. For some years previous to this 
the question of the abolition of the various Wei and 
amalgamating them with the appropriate Hsien had 
been eagerly discussed in civil and military circles. 
The question was not, indeed, one of dismantling 
fortifications or denuding the place of troops : these, 
it was reluctantly recognised, were a permanent 
necessity. The disputed point was merely one of 
jurisdiction and organisation. As we have seen, the 
Wei were something quite exceptional in the Chinese 
administrative system ; the creation of districts under 
direct military control, free from any interference on 
the part of the civil magistrates, had been in Chinese 
eyes a dangerous departure from the traditional ad- 
ministrative practice of past ages and could not be 
justified except as a temporary measure, which, being 
bad in principle, should only be resorted to under 
pressure of abnormal conditions. Several of the 
memorials and despatches written for and against the 
retention of the Wei are preserved in the printed 
Annals of the districts concerned. The matter was 
considered of such grave importance that a provincial 
governor and a governor-general were separately sent 
by the central Government to inquire into local con- 

' See p. 25. 


ditions at the north-eastern peninsula and to prepare 
detailed reports on the problems of administration 
and defence. The end of it all was that in 1735 the 
several Wei were abolished : Weihaiwei resumed its 
old place within the magistracy of Wen-teng, while the 
Promontory Wei of Ch'eng-shan was converted into 
a new magisterial district under the name of Jung- 
ch'eng Hsien. Similar fates befell the other Wei 
of eastern Shantung, such as Ching-hai, Ta-sung 
and Ning-hai. The boundary of Jung-ch'eng was 
placed as far west as the villages of Sheng-tzu and 
Ch'iao-t'ou,^ and therefore, as we have seen, the 
territory temporarily administered by Great Britain 
contains portions of both Wen-teng and Jung-ch'eng 

In most magisterial districts which include sea- 
ports or large market-centres there are certain small 
officials styled hsi'm-chien who reside at such places 
and carry on the routine and minor duties of civil 
government and police administration on behalf and 
under the authority of the district-magistrates. A 
hsi'm-chien in fact presides over what may be called 
a sub-district and acts as the magistrate's deputy. 
Before Weihai ceased to be a Wei an official of this 
class resided near what was then the northern 
boundary of the Wen-teng magistrate's jurisdiction, 
namely at a place called Wen-ch'iian-chai. When the 
Wei was absorbed in the Wen-teng district in 1735 
and the boundaries of that district were thus made to 
include all the land that lay to the north, the sub- 
district of Wen-ch'iian-chai was abolished, and a new 
sub-district created at Weihai with headquarters at 
Weihai city. The last hsiln-chien of Wen-ch'iian-chai 
became the first hsun-chien of Weihai, and the former 
place sank at once into the position of an ordinary 
country village. Wen-ch'iian-chai must not be con- 
fused with Wen-ch'uan-t'ang, the headquarters of the 
South Division of the territory under British rule ; ' 
' See pp. 14, 98. ' See p. 98. 


the two places are several miles apart, though both at 
present fall within the magisterial jurisdiction of the 
British District Officer, It is interesting to note that 
Wen-ch'iian-t'ang itself was long ago — probably be- 
fore the days of the Ming dynasty — the seat of a 
military official, the site of whose yamen is still 
pointed out by the people of the locality. The last 
hsmi-chien of Wen-ch'uan-chai, who was transferred 
to Weihai city, was a man of such excellent reputation 
that his name is remembered with respect to this day. 
The people of the neighbourhood still repeat a well- 
known old rhyme which he was fond of impressing 
upon their ancestors' minds : 

" Shan yu shan pao 
O yu pao 
Jo shih pu pao 
Shih-ch^en wei tao." 

This being translated means : 

" Happiness is the reward of virtue ; misery is the 
reward of wickedness. If virtue and wickedness have 
not brought their due recompense it is only because 
the time has not yet come." 

This man, whose name was Yang, is said to have 
been so upright and clean-handed an official that 
when he was relieved of office he found himself with- 
out funds sufficient to take him home to his native 
place, which was a long way off. However, being 
connected by marriage with the Li family of Ai-shan- 
ch'ien,^ he took up his residence with them and there 
spent the remainder of his life. He was buried in the 
graveyard of the Li family, where his tomb is still 
to be seen. 

The abolition of the Wei necessitated military 
changes of some importance, but the descendants of 
the old military colonists remained where they were 
and kept possession of their lands. The only differ- 

' This is a village in British territory near Ai-shan Miao, a temple 
described on pp. 385-6. 


ence to them was that their names as land-holders 
were now enrolled in the ordinary civil registers 
instead of in separate military registers. The chiin ti 
(military lands) became min ti (civilian lands) and the 
payment of land-tax was substituted for military 

The country appears to have remained unmolested 
by external foes until 1798, when a fleet of pirate-junks 
made its appearance with the usual disagreeable 
results. The years 1810-11 were also bad years for 
the people, as the eastern part of the province was 
infested with bands of roving brigands — probably 
poor peasants who, having been starved out of house 
and home by floods and droughts and having sold 
all their property, were asserting their last inalienable 
right, that of living. Whatever their provocation may 
have been, it appears from the local records that during 
the two years just mentioned their daring robberies 
caused the temporary closing of some of the country- 
markets. The robbers went about in armed bands, 
each consisting of seventy or eighty men, and com- 
plaints were openly made that the officials would take 
no active steps to check these disorderly proceedings 
because the yamen-runners — the ill-paid or unpaid 
rabble of official underlings by whom Chinese yamens 
are infested — were in league with the robbers and 
received a percentage of the booty as " hush-money." 
The usual method of attack adopted by the miscreants 
was to lurk in the graveyards — where in this region 
there is always good cover — and lie in wait for un- 
protected travellers. Unlike the Robin Hoods and 
Dick Turpins of England they shrank not from 
robbing the poor, and they spared neither old woman 
nor young child. 

Human enemies were not the only adverse forces 
with which the much-harried peasant of Weihaiwei 
had to contend. Famine, -drought, earthquake, pes- 
tilence, all had their share in adding to his sorrows. 
Sometimes his crops . were destroyed by locusts; 


sometimes his domestic animals became the prey of 
wild beasts. We find from the Annals that the first 
visit of British war-vessels to Weihaiwei, which 
occurred in 1816/ synchronised with a period of great 
misery: famines and epidemics in 181 1 and 1812 had 
been followed by several years of agricultural dis- 
tress ; and during the years from 18 13 to 1818 a new 
scourge visited the people in the shape of packs of 
ravenous wolves. The officers and men of the Alceste 
and Lyra might have had the pleasure, had they only 
known it, of joining in the wolf-hunts organised by 
the local officials. 

The published chronicles do not carry us further 
than the middle of the nineteenth century, though 
the yamens of Wen-teng and Jung-ch'eng possess all 
the information necessary for the production of new 
up-to-date editions of their local histories as soon 
as the higher provincial authorities issue the neces- 
sary orders. A new edition of the Vung Chih, the 
general Annals and Topography of the whole Province 
of Shantung, is at present in course of preparation at 
the capital ; and to this work each of the magistracies 
will be required to contribute its quota of information. 
If the work is brought up to recent times it will be 
interesting to read its account of the war with Japan 
in 1894-5, and of the capture of Weihaiwei. Before 
the outbreak of that war the fortifications of Wei- 
haiwei had been entirely reconstructed under the 
direction of European engineers. It was not, how- 
ever, so strong a fortress as Port Arthur, upon which 
six millions sterling had been spent by the Govern- 
ment, and which was regarded by the Chinese as 
impregnable. Yet Port Arthur fell to the victorious 
Japanese after a single day's fighting, whereas Wei- 
haiwei, vigorously attacked by land and sea, did not 
capitulate till three weeks after the Japanese troops 
had landed (on January 20, 1895) at the Shantung 

• See p. I, 



Since February 1895 Weihaiwei has never been out 
of the hands of a foreign Power. At the conclusion 
of the war the place was retained in the hands of 
the Japanese as security for the due fulfilment of the 
conditions of peace. Then followed the concerted 
action of the three States of Germany, Russia and 
France to rob Japan of some of the fruits of her 
victory. The moving spirit in this coalition was 
Russia, who ousted Japan from Port Arthur and took 
possession of it herself. As a result of this manoeuvre 
Great Britain demanded that Weihaiwei should be 
" leased " to her " for as long a period as Port Arthur 
remains in the occupation of Russia." It may be 
noted that the original "lease" of Port Arthur by 
China to Russia was for twenty-five years, which 
period will not elapse till 1923. Another almost 
simultaneous attack on Chinese integrity was made 
by Germany, whose long-sought opportunity of es- 
tablishing herself on the coast of China was thrust 
in her way by the murder of two of her missionaries 
in Shantung. (Is it to be wondered at that the Chinese 
have at times regarded European missionaries as the 
forerunners of foreign armies and warships, in spite 
of the missionary's assertion that he is the apostle 
of universal love and has come to preach the Golden 
Rule ?) 



The Chinese in Shantung have a strange tale 
to tell of the murder of those German missionaries. 
They say the outrage had its origin in the kid- 
napping of a woman by an employee in a certain 
Chinese yamen. She had influential connexions, who 
promptly demanded her restitution. The kidnapper 
had the ear of the magistrate, who, turning a deaf 
ear to his petitioners, or professing to know nothing 
about the matter, took no action. The woman's 
relations then devoted their energy to bringing ruin 
upon the magistrate ; and after long consultations 
decided that the surest and quickest method of doing 
so would be by killing the two local missionaries. 
This, they knew, would infallibly be followed by a 
demand from the foreign Government concerned for 
the magistrate's degradation and punishment. They 
had no grudge whatever against the missionaries, and 
merely regarded their slaughter as a simple means 
to a much-desired end. They carried out their plan 
with complete success, and the magistrate's ruin was 
the immediate result ; but a further consequence, 
unforeseen by the murderers, was that " His Majesty 
the Emperor of China, being desirous of promoting 
an increase of German power and influence in the 
Far East," leased to His Majesty the German Emperor 
the territory of Kiaochou. Needless to say, an in- 
crease of the power and influence of any great 
European Power in the eastern hemisphere was, very 
naturally, the last thing to be desired by the Chinese 
Emperor and his people. It seems a pity that modern 
civilised States have not yet devised some means of 
putting an end to the ignoble warfare that is con- 
tinually waged by the language of diplomacy against 
the language of simple truth. 

The reader may be interested in some illustrations 
of the manner in which the Chinese official chronicler 
arranges, in chronological order, his statements of 
conspicuous local events. The following lists of 
occurrences with their dates (which are merely selec- 


tions from the available material) are translated direct 
from the Chinese ; Annals of Weihaiwei, Wen-teng, 
Jung-ch'eng, and Ning-hai, A few of the meteoro- 
logical and astronomical details are of some interest, 
if their meaning is not always obvious. With regard 
to the comets, I have made no attempt at exact veri- 
fication, though the comet of 1682 was evidently 
Halley's, which is occupying a good deal of public 
and scientific attention at the present time. That of 
1741 may have been either Olbers's or Pons's, and 
that of 1801 was perhaps Stephan's. But these are 
points which are best left to the man of science. The 
Chinese dates are in all cases converted into the 
corresponding dates of the Christian era. 

Han Dynasty. 

40 B.C. A singularly successful year in the wild- 
silk industry, owing to the abundance of silk 
produced by the silkworms at Mou-p'ing 

Chin Dynasty. 

353 A.D. (about January). The planet Venus crossed 
the orbit (?) of the planet Mars and passed 
over to the west. [This appears to be un- 

386 (about July). The planet Jupiter was seen in 
the daytime in the west. 

T'ang Dynasty. 

841. In the autumn, hailstorms destroyed houses and 
ruined crops. 

Sung Dynasty, 
990. Great famine. 

Yuan Dynasty. 
1295-6. Floods. 

1297. Seventh moon. Great famine. [The Chinese 
year begins a month or more later than the 


European year. The word " moon " is used 
as an indication that the month is the lunar 
month, which alone is recognised in China.] 

1330. Great famine. 

1355. Locusts destroyed crops. 

Ming Dynasty. 

1408. Earthquake, with a noise like thunder. 

1506. Seventh moon, sixth day. Great floods, both 

from sky and ocean. Crops destroyed and soil 

impregnated with salt. 

1511. Wandering brigands entered the district. Hear- 

ing the sound of artillery, they fled. 

15 12. Third moon, thirteenth day. The bell and the 

drum in the temple of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti on 
Ch'eng-shan ^ sounded of their own accord. 
Immediately afterwards, the temple was de- 
stroyed by fire, but the images remained intact. 
On the same day a band of roving robbers 
entered Wen-teng city. 

1513. A flight of locusts darkened the sun. 
1 5 16. Drought and floods. No harvest. 

1 5 18. Famine and starvation. 

1546. Floods. Ninth moon, second day: a hailstorm 
and an earthquake, with a noise like thunder. 

1548. Great earthquake. Countless dwelling-houses 

1556, Between five and six in the morning of the 
twenty-ninth day of the twelfth moon (early in 
1556) the sun produced four parhelia (mock- 
suns) of great brilliance. The northern one 
was especially dazzling. [The appearance of 
four parhelia was regarded as unusual enough 
to merit special mention, but old inhabitants 
of Weihaiwei say that two "sun's ears," as 
they are called, are comparatively often seen 
at sunrise. According to the local folk-lore, 
a single "ear" on the left side of the sun 

' See p. 23. 


betokens high winds, while a single " ear " on 

the right foretells rain. If " ears " appear on 

both left and right, splendid weather for the 

farmers is to be expected,] 
1570. Floods. All crops destroyed and houses flooded. 
1576. Third moon, twenty-seventh day. Tremendous 

storm of wind and rain, and ruin of young 

1580. Landslips on the hills. 
1585. Great famine. 
1597. Earthquake and rumbling noise. From this year 

to 1609 there were no good harvests. 
161 3. Seventh moon, seventh day. At noon a black 

vapour came up from the north-east. There 

was a fierce wind and a great fall of rain. In 

the autumn there was a drought. 

161 5. A plague of locusts, resulting in the destruction 

of the crops. 

1616. In spring, a great famine. Men ate human 

tlesh. Free breakfasts were provided by the 
district-magistrate of Wen-teng, Chang Chiu- 
ching, and by the chih-hiii of Weihaiwei, T'ao 
Chi-tsu, whereby thousands of lives were 

1620. Seventh moon, eighth day. A great storm, which 

tore up trees and destroyed houses. Many 
people crushed to death. Ninety-six junks 
wrecked on the coast and over one hundred 
men drowned. 

1621. Fourth moon, eighteenth day. A rumour was 

spread that pirates had landed on the coast. 
Many people were so terrified that they fled 
to a distance of 800 //, and trampled each 
other under foot in their eff"orts to escape. 
It was a false rumour. In the autumn there 
was an earthquake. 

1622. Locusts. 

1623-5. Three years of excellent harvests. 

1626. Fifth moon : storm with hailstones as big as 


hens* eggs. Intercalary sixth moon: floods and 
destruction of crops. Seventh moon : great 
storm that uprooted trees. 

1639. Locusts darkened the sky. Famine. 

1640. Drought. Famine. 

164 1. Great famine. More than half the people 

perished. Men ate human flesh. Six hundred 
taels of money were given by the officials of 
Ning-hai to relieve the people of that district. 
1642-3. No harvests. Country pillaged by robbers. 

Ch'ing Dynasty. 

1650. Spring and summer : drought. Autumn : floods 
and crops inundated. 

1656. Great harvest. 

1659. Comet in the Northern Dipper [the stars a jS j 8 
in Ursa Major]. 

1662. At Weihaiwei the tide threw up a monstrous fish 
which was five chang high [over fifty-eight 
English feet], several tens of chang long [at 
least three hundred and sixty feet], with a 
black body and white flesh. The people of 
the place all went down and spent a couple 
of months or so in cutting up the great beast 
but did not come to the end of it. Those of 
the people who liked a bit of fun cut out its 
bones and piled them into a mound ; the large 
bones were about twelve feet in circumference, 
the small ones about six feet. The small ones 
were his tail bones. [Stories of monstrous 
fishes are not rare along the Shantung coast, 
and — allowing for exaggerations with refer- 
ence to dimensions — they are based on a 
substratum of fact. We have seen (see p. 27) 
that the bones of a vast fish were presented to 
the Kuan Ti temple in Weihaiwei city, where 
they may still be seen ; and another set of 
fish-bones adorn the canopy of a theatrical 


stage in the same city. For other references 
to great fishes, see pp. 24 and 26.] 

1664. Drought. Seventh moon : a comet with a tail 

twelve feet in length. 

1665. Earthquake. Great drought. Land taxes re- 

mitted. A comet. 
1668. First moon. The sun produced four parhelia. On 
the twenty-fifth day a white vapour came from 
the south-west. On the seventeenth day of the 
sixth moon there was a great earthquake, 
and there were three noises like thunder. 
Parts of the city walls of Ch'eng-shan-wei and 
Wen-teng collapsed, and many houses. A de- 
vastating wind for three days spoiled the crops. 

1670. Great snowstorm. Snow lay twelve feet deep. 

Intensely cold weather. Men were frozen to 
death on the roads and even inside their own 

1671. Great landslips on the hills. Sixth moon, rain 

and floods for three days, followed by ruin of 
crops and partial remission of land-tax. 

1679. First moon : four halos appeared round the sun. 
Sixth moon, first day, and seventh moon, 
twenty-eighth day : earthquakes. 

1682. Fifth moon, sixth day : earthquake destroyed two 
portions of the yamen of the district-magistrate, 
Wen-teng. Eighth moon, first day : a comet 
[Halley's ?] was seen in daytime, and did not 
pass away till the eleventh day. In the same 
moon a violent storm occurred in one locality, 
spoiling the crops. 

1685. Third moon, twelfth day. A violent wind. 

1686. Earthquake. Sixth moon, twenty-eighth day, a 

comet came from the south-east as big as a 
peck-measure and as bright as the sun. It 
threaded the Southern Dipper and entered the 
Milky Way, where it became invisible. The 
sound of " heaven's drum " was heard four or 
five times. 


1688. Twelfth moon, seventh day. Earthquake. 

1689. Spring : famine. Sixth moon, first day : earth- 

1691. Seventh moon, tenth day. Locusts. 

1696. Floods and famine. In winter the district- 

magistrate provided free breakfasts. 

1697. Government grain issued to save the people 

from starvation. Some however died of 

1703. Floods and drought and a great famine in 1703 
were followed in 1704 by deadly epidemics. 
More than half the population perished. The 
condition of the survivors was pitiful. They 
lived by eating the thatch that roofed their 
houses and they also ate human flesh. Land- 
tax remitted for three years. 

1706. Great harvest. 

1709. Rains injured crops. Famine. 

17 1 7. A great snowstorm at Weihaiwei on the twenty- 
sixth day of the first moon. People frozen to 
death. Eighth moon, rain and hail. 

1719. Seventh moon. Great floods. Houses destroyed 
and crops ruined ; the district-magistrate gave 
free breakfasts and issued grain for planting. 

1723. Great harvest. 

1724. Remission of three-tenths of land-tax for three 

years. Great snowfall in winter. 

1725. In the second moon (about March) occurred the 

phenomenon of the coalescence of sun and 
moon and the junction of the jewels of the five 
planets.^ [This has nothing to do with an 
eclipse. It is a phenomenon which is believed 
to indicate great happiness and prosperity, and 
good harvests. It is said to consist in the 
apparent simultaneous rising of sun and moon 
accompanied by peculiar atmospheric con- 
ditions. Some of the planets are supposed 
to go through a similar process.] 
' Jih yileh ?io pi, wu hsing lien chu. 


1730. Twelfth moon, twenty-eighth day (about January 
or February 1730), at nine in the evening, some 
beautiful parti-coloured clouds appeared in the 
north. They were resplendent with many 
tints intricately interwoven, and several hours 
passed before they faded away. Every one 
declared that the phenomenon betokened un- 
exampled prosperity. 

1736. First year of the reign of Ch'ien Lung. Three- 
tenths of the land-tax remitted. Eleventh 
moon, twenty-fourth and twenty-sixth days, 

1739. Drought and floods. 

1740. Land-tax remitted and public granaries opened. 

1 741. Seventh moon. A comet came from the west 

and did not fade till the twelfth moon. Great 
1743. On the festival of the Ninth of the Ninth Moon 
a strange fish came ashore near Weihaiwei. 
Its head was like a dog's, its belly like a sea- 
turtle's. Its tail was six chHIi long [say seven 
English feet] and at the end were three pointed 
prongs. On its back was a smaller fish, about 
ten inches long, which seemed to be made of 
nothing but spikes and bones. No one knew 
the name of either fish. It was suggested that 
perhaps the smaller one had fastened itself to 
the big one, and that the latter, unable to bear 
the pain of the small one's spikes, had dashed 
for the shore. 

1747. Seventh moon, fifteenth day. Great storm : 

crops ruined. 

1748. Locusts hid the sun and demolished the crops. 

1749. Tenth moon, twenty-second day. Great storm 

and many drowned. 
1751-2. Floods. Crops damaged by water and a hail- 
storm. Many died of starvation. Assistance 
given by Government, by the importation of 
grain from Manchuria. 



1753- Good harvests. 

1 761. Great snowfall. Many geese and ducks frozen 
to death. 

1765. Second moon, eleventh day: earthquake. Sixth 

moon : great floods, land flooded, houses de- 
stroyed, people injured. 

1766. Great drought. 

1767. Third moon, twenty-first day : great storm, 

trees uprooted and houses destroyed. Sixth 
moon, twentieth day : earthquake. 

1769. Autumn, a comet. 

1770. Seventh moon, twenty-ninth day. In the evening 

the north quarter of the sky became red as if 
on fire. 

1 77 1. Sixth moon. Continuous rain from second to 

ninth days. Crops ruined ; famine. 

1774. Second moon, second day: great storm which 

made the sands fly and the rocks roll, burst 
open houses and uprooted trees. Heaven 
and earth became black. Eighth moon : 

1775. Summer, great drought. Eighth moon, sev^en- 

teenth day : earthquake. 

1783. From first to sixth moon, no rain; food ex- 
cessively dear. 

1785. Eighth moon, tenth day. Earthquake. 

1790. Tenth moon, sixth day. Earthquake. 

1 79 1. Tenth moon, ninth day. Earthquake. 

1796. First moon, second day. A sound like thunder 

rolled from north-east to south-west. 

1797. Eleventh moon, second day. "Heaven's drum" 

was heard. 

1801. Fourth moon. A star was seen in the north, of 

fiery red colour ; it went westward, and was 
like a dragon. Summer and autumn, great 
drought : all grass and trees withered. Famine 
in winter. 

1802. Tenth moon. Wheat eaten by locusts. 

1803. Great snowfall. 


1807, Seventh moon. Comet seen in the west, dying 
away in the tenth moon. Good harvests. 

1810. Floods. In spring, devastation was caused by 


181 1. Eighth moon. A comet was seen, more than forty 

feet long. There was a great famine. During 
this year there were seventeen earthquakes, 
the first occurring on the ninth day of the 
fourth moon, the last on the sixteenth day of 
the ninth moon.^ 

1812. Famine in spring. The people lived on willow- 

leaves and the bark of trees. Multitudes died 
of disease. The district-magistrate opened the 
public granaries. The famine continued till 
the wheat was ripe. 

1813. Wolves caused devastation from this year on- 

wards until 1818. The year 1816 was the 
worst, and the officials organised expeditions 
to hunt the wolves with dogs. 
1 81 5. A comet was seen in the west. 

1817. Fourth moon, eighth day. Earthquake and loud 


1818. Sixth moon, floods. People drowned. A kind 

of temporary lifeboat service was organised 

by the officials. 
1821. Famine. Locusts. A deadly pestilence in 

autumn. Fourth moon, a repetition of the 

celestial phenomenon mentioned under the 

date 1725. 
1823. Earthquake. 

' The large number of earthquakes recorded in the Annals of tliis 
region is remarkable. Only slight earth-tremors have been noticed 
since the beginning of the British occupation, but the experience 
of former days should prevent us from feeling too sanguine as to 
the future. A recent writer has pointed out that though violent 
earthquakes are not to be expected on " a gently sloping surface 
such as the ocean-bed from which the British Isles arise," they 
may be expected on "the steeply shelving margins of the Pacific 
Ocean." (Charles Davison in the Quarterly Review, April 1909, 
p. 496.) 


1835. Sixth and seventh moons. More than forty 

days of rain. Government help given to the 

1836. Famine. Food and seed provided by the 

officials. Abnormally high tides this year. 

1838. Fourth moon. A plague of locusts. The district- 

magistrate collected the people of the country, 
and went out at their head to catch and slay 
the insects. After a few days they utterly 
vanished. Excellent harvest thereafter. 

1839. From fourth to seventh moon, crops spoiled by 

excessive rain. Tenth moon, twelfth day, a 
noisy earthquake. From the sixteenth to the 
twenty-third of the same month rain fell un- 

1840. Eclipse of the sun. 

1842. Sixth moon, first day, an eclipse of the sun, 
during which the stars were visible. 

1844. Eighth moon, twenty-fifth day, at midnight, a 
great earthquake. 

1846. Sixth moon, thirteenth day, at night, a great 


1847. Seventh moon. The planet Venus was seen in 


1848. Drought and locusts. 

1850. First day of the New Year, an eclipse of the 

1852. Eleventh moon, first day, an eclipse of the sun. 
1856. Seventh moon, locusts. Great pestilence. On the 

first of the ninth moon, an eclipse of the sun. 

1 861. Eighth moon, first day, same phenomenon as 

witnessed in 1725 and 1821. 

1862. Seventh and eighth moons, great pestilence. 

These extracts from the local chronicles are perhaps 
enough to prove that the Weihaiwei peasant has not 
always lain on a bed of roses. When we know him 
in his native village, and have learned to appreciate 
his powers of endurance, his patience, courage, 


physical strength and manly independence, and re- 
member at the same time how toilfully and amid what 
perils his ancestors have waged the battle of life, we 
shall probably feel inclined either to dissociate our- 
selves forthwith from the biological theory that denies 
the inheritance of acquired qualities or to recognise 
that the principle of natural selection has been at work 
here with conspicuous success. 

The chief boast of the Promontory district, includ- 
ing Weihaiwei, is or should be its sturdy peasantry, 
yet it is not without its little list, also, of wise men 
and heroes. Weihaiwei, like other places, has its 
local shrine for the reverential commemoration of 
those of its men and women who have distinguished 
themselves for hsien, chieJi, hsiao — virtue, wifely de- 
votion and filial piety ; and the accounts given us 
in the official annals of the lives and meritorious 
actions of these persons are not without interest as 
showing the nature of the deeds that the Chinese 
consider worthy of special honour and official re- 

On the northern slope of Wen-teng Shan, near the 
city of that name, is the tomb of Hsien Hsien Sheit 
Tzu — the Ancient Worthy Shen. He was a noted 
scholar of the Chou dynasty (1122-293 b.c). The 
T'ang dynasty honoured him (about one thousand 
years or more after his death) with the posthumous 
title of Earl of Lu (Lu Pai). The Sung dynasty about 
the year 1012 a.d. created the deceased philosopher 
Marquess of Wen-teng (Wen-teng Hou). His de- 
scendants — no longer of noble rank — are said to be 
still living in the ancestral village of Shen-chia-chuang 
(the village of the Shen family), his native place. In 
1723 a new monument was erected at his grave by 
the district-magistrate of that time, and the custom 
was established for the local officials to offer sacrifices 

' In another chapter mention will be made of the Virtuous Widows 
and other women of exemplary conduct whom the Chinese delight 
to honour. 


at the marquess's tomb three days before the Ch'ing- 
ming festival.^ 

Close to Wen-ch'iian-t'ang (the headquarters of the 
South Division of Weihaiwei under British rule) is 
to be seen the grave of one Yii P'eng-lun, who during 
the terrible period 1639-43 honourably distinguished 
himself by opening soup-kitchens along the roadsides. 
He also presented a free burial-ground for the re- 
ception of the bones of the unknown or destitute poor 
who had starved to death. Free schools, moreover, 
and village granaries were founded by this enlight- 
ened philanthropist. After his death the Board of 
Rites in 1681 sanctioned his admission into the Temple 
of Local Worthies. 

In 1446 were buried close to Weihaiwei the remains 
of a great general named Wei (IVct chiang-chiui) who 
had done good service against the Japanese. 

Ch'i Ch'ung-chin, a native of Weihaiwei, is stated 
in the Chronicle to have been by nature sincere and 
filial, and a good friend. He was also zealously 
devoted to study. In 1648 he became an official and 
occupied many posts in Yiinnan and other distant 
provinces. He governed the people virtuously, and 
conferred a great benefit on them during an inunda- 
tion by constructing dykes. He died at his post 
through overwork. 

Pi Kao was a chih-hid of Weihaiwei, and first took 
office in 1543. He was afterwards promoted to a 
higher military post in Fuhkien, and in 1547 died 
fighting against the " Dwarfs " who had landed on 
the coast of that province. He was canonised as 
one of the Patriot-servants of the Empire {chnng- 

Ku Sheng-yen from his earliest j^'ears showed ex- 
ceptional zeal in the study of military tactics, and 
accustomed himself to horseback-riding and archery. 
In 1757 he became a military chin sliih (graduate of 
high rank) and was selected for a post in Ssuch'uan. 

» See pp. 186-7. 


Subsequently in Yunnan he took part in fourteen 
actions against the Burmese. At Man-hua during 
SL siege he was wounded in the head and had a severe 
fall, from which he nearly died. He took part in the 
operations against the Sung-p'an principality (in 
Ssuch'uan), and in 1773 the general commanding the 
imperial troops against the Chin-ch'uan rebels in the 
west of Ssuch'uan ordered him to lead the attack. 
This he did with conspicuous success, capturing 
numerous strongholds, bridges and outposts, and 
slaughtering enormous numbers of the enemy. He was 
honoured by the Emperor with the Peacock Feather 
and the Bat'uru.^ Later on he received a wound from 
which he died. Further marks of imperial favour were 
bestowed upon him on the occasion of his funeral. 

Wang Yiieh of the Ming dynasty passed a very 
good examination and was appointed a district- 
magistrate. For nine years he received no promotion, 
so he threw up his official post and came home 
whistling and singing with delight at having got his 
freedom. Among his writings are " Records of 
Southern Travel " and a description of Weihaiwei. 
The latter takes the form of an imaginary dialogue 
between a stranger from Honan and a Weihaiwei 
native.* It is too long to translate in full, but it begins 
thus : " From the far west came a stranger. Here 
at Weihai he rested awhile, and as he gazed at the 
limitless expanse of hills and ocean his feelings ex- 
pressed themselves now in deep sighs, now in smiles 
of happiness. Summoning to his side a native of 
Weihai he introduced himself thus : * I come from the 
province of Honan. Nq rich man am I, yet I love 
to wander hither and hither, wherever there are 
wonderful places or beautiful scenery to be visited. 
I have seen the sacred hills of Heng, Sung, Hua and 
T'ai ; ' the famous rivers and lakes of the Empire, the 

' A kind of Manclni D.S.O. 

' Quoted in Weihaiwei Chih (9th chilan, p. 69). 

* See pp. 74, 391 seq., 396. 


Yangtse and the Han, the Tung-t'ing lake, the Hsiang 
river, have all been visited by me, all their points of 
interest examined and all their beauties seized. But 
methought that the great ocean I had not yet seen, 
for it lay far to the east.' " He goes on to describe 
by what route and under what difficulties he travelled, 
and " I don't know how many thousand // I haven't 
come," he said plaintively; "my horse is weary and 
his hoofs are worn, my servant is in pain with 
swollen ankles, and just see what a pitiable sight I 
am with my tortured bones and muscles ! However, 
here we are at last, and all I want to do is to gain 
new experiences and behold new scenes, and so re- 
move all cause of future regret for things not seen." 

The Weihai man points out to the stranger the 
various features of interest of the place and gives 
a sketch of its history, and the narration ends up 
with his loyal wishes for the eternal preservation of 
his country and the long life of the Emperor. 

Yiian Shu-fang took his degree in 1648 and received 
an appointment in Yang-chou,' where he fulfilled his 
official functions with wisdom and single-mindedness. 
He was fond of travelling about in the south-eastern 
provinces and attracted round him numbers of people 
of artistic temperament. After many years, continues 
his biographer, he retired from the civil service and 
went home to Weihaiwei. There he gave himself up 
with the greatest enthusiasm to the luxury of poetic 
composition. Among his poems are " Songs of the 
South." He edited and annotated the Kan Ying P'ien 
[the Taoist " Book of Rewards and Punishments "] 
and other works of that nature. A little poem of his 
on the view of Liukungtao from the city wall is given 
a place in the Weihaiwei Chili. 

The number of Chinese officials who, like Wang 
Yiieh or Yuan Shu-fang, have been glad to divest 
themselves of the cares and honours of office under 

* A city on the Grand Canal in Kiangsu, well known on account of 
its association with the name of Marco Polo. 


Government is surprisingly large. Disappointed am- 
bition ; constitutional dislike of routine employment, 
official conventionalities and "red tape"; a passion 
for the tranquil life of a student ; a love of beauty in 
art or nature : these, or some of them, are the causes 
that have impelled multitudes of Chinese officials to 
resign office, often early in their careers, and seek a 
quiet life of scholarly seclusion either in their own 
homes or in some lonely hermitage or some mountain 
retreat. Even at the present day retired magistrates 
may be met with in the most unexpected places. I 
found one in 1908 living in a little temple at the 
edge of the stupendous precipice of Hua Shan in 
Shensi, eight thousand feet above the sea-level. He 
was a lover of poetry and a worshipper of Nature. 

Ting Pai-yiin was for some time a resident in but 
not a native of Weihaiwei. His personal name and 
native place are unknown. It is said that he obtained 
the doctorate of letters towards the end of the Ming 
period. His first official post was at Wei Hsien 
in Shantung. Subsequently he took to a roving life 
and travelled far and wide. When he came to Li 
Shan near Weihaiwei he was glad to find a kindred 
spirit in one Tung Tso-ch'ang, with whom he ex- 
changed poems and essays. He devoted himself with 
the utmost persistence to the occult arts, and succeeded 
in foretelling the date of his own death. He practised 
his wizardry in the Lao mountains,^ and people called 
him Mr. White-clouds. 

Wang Ching, Ting Shih-chu, Kuo Heng, Pi Ch'ing 
and some others receive honourable mention among 
the Weihaiwei worthies for their kindness and benevo- 
lence towards the poor during various periods of 
famine. Some writers are apt to assume that pity 
and charity are only to be met with among Christian 
peoples. The mistake is serious, but perhaps it is not 
an unnatural one, for we do not in Oriental countries 
see anything comparable with the vast charitable 
' Close to the present German colony of Kiaochou. 


organisations, the " missions " to the poor and vicious, 
the free hospitals, infirmaries and ahnshouses, that 
we see in Western countries. As a partial explanation 
of this we should remember that in countries where 
individualism is supreme there are more people who 
" fall by the wayside," lonely and helpless, than there 
are in countries where the family ties are indissoluble. 
The people of Weihaiwei consist of peasant-farmers — 
very poor from the Western point of view : yet there 
is not a beggar in the Territory, and if an almshouse 
or an infirmary were established there to-morrow 
it would probably remain untenanted. 

Ch'i Yen-yiin was a graduate and a devoted student 
of the art of poetry. He put his books in a bundle 
and trudged away to look for a Master. He wandered 
great distances, and made a pilgrimage to the Five 
Sacred Mountains. He was joined by a number of 
disciples, who came from all directions and travelled 
about with him. A pilgrimage to the Wu Yiieh or Five 
Sacred Mountains,^ it ma}^ be mentioned, is regarded 
as a performance of no mean merit, through which 
the pilgrim will infallibly evolve mystical or spiritual 
powers of marvellous efficacy. These valuable powers 
have not yet shown themselves in a foreigner from 
distant Europe who performed this little feat in 

Wang Ch'i-jui was famous among all the literates of 
the district for his exemplary character. When he 
was only thirteen he and his whole family were 
bought by a certain official as domestic servants. 
Wang paid the greatest attention to his studies, and 
his master, seeing this, put out his tongue in astonish- 
ment and said, " this boy is much too good to be 
wasted." So he cancelled the deed of purchase and 
set the boy free. In after-years he distinguished 
himself as a friend of the downtrodden and oppressed, 
and during the troublous times that marked the end 
of the Ming and the rise of the Ch'ing dynasty he 

' See pp. 71 and 391 seq. 


strenuously advocated the cause of the poor. Once 
he passed a certain ruffian who was waiting by the 
roadside to waylay travellers. This man was the 
most truculent swashbuckler in the whole country- 
side ; but when he saw Wang Ch'i-jui, and recognised 
him, he lowered his sword. Subsequently through 
Wang's clemency this robber received a pardon for 
his crimes. 

The name of the patriot Huang Ch'eng-tsung of the 
Ming dynasty is enrolled among both the Hsiaug Hsicn 
(Local Worthies) and the Chung Cli'en (Loyal Officials). 
The records say that though he came of a poor family 
in Weihaiwei he showed a zealous and ambitious 
temperament even from the days of childhood. Having 
taken his degree, he was appointed to a post at 
Ch'ing-tu, where he distinguished himself as an able 
official. In 1638, when rebel troops were approaching 
the city, he placed himself at the head of the local 
troops and fought with great heroism for ten days. 
Unfortunately a certain military graduate entered into 
traitorous communication with the enemy and let 
them into the city. When Huang was told the bad 
news he decided that, though defeat and death were 
now certain, he was bound in honour to fight to the 
last. He had a brave young son of eighteen years of 
age, named Huang Chao-hsiian, who, learning what 
had happened, addressed his father thus: "An official 
can prove his lo3^alty by dying for his sovereign, 
a son his filial devotion by dying with his father." 
The two went out to meet the enemy together. Huang 
Ch'eng-tsung was shot dead by an arrow while he 
was fighting in the streets, and the son was slain 
at his father's side. 

This was not the end of the tragedy. Of Huang's 
wife, Liu Shih, the story is told that as soon as 
news was brought her of her husband's death she 
immediately turned towards the north and made an 
obeisance in the direction of the Emperor. Then 
she took her little daughter and strangled her, and 


immediately afterwards died by her own hand.^ Her 
dying wish was that her little girl should be placed be- 
side her in her coffin. Finally, a faithful servant of 
the family, named Huang Lu, seized a dagger and 
killed himself. And so, says the local chronicle, were 
brought about the pitiful deaths of a patriotic official, 
a filial son, a devoted wife, a loyal servant.* No 
one who heard the story but shed tears. The dead 
bodies were brought back to Weihaiwei and buried 
at Nai-ku Shan, to the north of Weihai City. 

' A motive for this was doubtless the knowledge that the rebel 
soldiers would soon be turned loose in the captured city. 

' Apparently the poor daughter did not count, either because she was 
a. mere soulless infant or because her part in the proceedings was a 
passive one. 



When negotiations were being carried on seventy 
years ago for the cession of Hongkong to the British 
Crown the only interests that were properly consulted 
were those of commerce. Military and naval require- 
ments were so far overlooked that one side of the 
harbour, with its dominating range of mountains, was 
allowed to remain in the hands of China, the small 
island of Hongkong alone passing into the hands of 
Great Britain. The strategic weakness of the position 
was soon recognised ; it was obvious that the Chinese, 
or any hostile Power allied with China, could hold the 
island and the harbour, with its immense shipping, 
entirely at its mercy by the simple expedient of 
mounting guns on the Kowloon hills. The first 
favourable opportunity was taken by the British 
Government to obtain a cession of a few square miles 
of the Kowloon peninsula, but from the strategic point 
of view this step was of very little use ; and it was not 
till 1898 that the Hongkong " New Territory " — a 
patch of country which, including the mountain ranges 
and some considerable islands, has an area of several 
hundred square miles — was " leased " to Great Britain 
** for a period of ninety-nine years." 

When, in the same year, arrangements were being 
made for the " lease " of Weihaiwei, no decision had 
been come to as to whether the place was to be made 



into a fortress, like Hongkong, or merely retained as 
a flying base for the fleet or as a depot of commerce : 
but to make quite sure that there would be enough 
territory for all possible or probable purposes the 
British Government asked for and obtained a lease 
not only of the island of Liukung but also of a strip 
of land measuring ten miles round the entire bay. 
The bay itself, with its various inlets, is so extensive 
that this strip of land comprises an area of nearly 
three hundred square miles, with a coast-line of over 
seventy miles ; while the bee-line frontier from the 
village of Ta-lan-t'ou in the extreme east to Hai 
Chuang in the extreme west measures about forty 

This land-frontier is purely artificial : in one or two 
cases, while it includes one portion of a village it 
leaves the rest in Chinese territory. This considerable 
area is under direct British rule, and within it no 
Chinese official has any jurisdiction whatever except, 
as we have seen,^ within the walls of the little city 
from which the Territory derives its name. Beyond 
the British frontier lies a country in which the British 
Government may, if it sees fit, " erect fortifications, 
station troops, or take any other measures necessary 
for defensive purposes at any points on or near the 
coast of the region east of the meridian 121° 40' E. 
of Greenwich." The British " sphere of influence " 
may thus be said to extend from about half-way to 
Chefoo on the west to the Shantung Promontory on 
the east : but Great Britain has had no necessity for 
the practical exercise of her rights in that wide region. 

Of the general appearance of the Territory and its 
neighbourhood something has been said in the second 
chapter. Hills are very numerous though not of great 
altitude, the loftiest being only about 1,700 feet high. 
A short distance be3^ond the frontier one or two 
of the mountains are more imposing, especially the 
temple-crowned Ku-yii hills to the south-west, which 

' See p. 2g. 


are over 3,000 feet in height.^ There are about 
three hundred and fifteen villages in the leased 
Territory under direct British rule ; of these none 
would be described as a large village in England, and 
many are mere hamlets, but they have been estimated 
to contain an aggregate population of 150,000. Con- 
sidering that agriculture is the occupation of all but 
a small portion of the people, and that large areas in 
the Territory are wholly unfit for cultivation, this 
population must be regarded as very large, and its 
size can only be explained by the extreme frugality 
of the people and the almost total absence of a leisured 
or parasitic class. 

The Weihaiwei Convention was signed in July 1898. 
For the first few years the place was controlled by 
various naval and military authorities, of whom one 
was Major-General Sir A. Dorward, K.C.B., but it 
can hardly be said to have been administered during 
that time, for the whole Territory beyond Liukungtao 
and the little mainland settlement of Ma-t'ou (now 
Port Edward) was almost entirely left to its own 
devices. The temporary appointment of civil officers 
lent by the Foreign and Colonial Offices led to the 
gradual extension and consolidation of civil govern- 
ment throughout the Territory. One of these officers 
was the late Mr. G. T. Hare of the Straits Settlements 
Government, and another — whose excellent work is 
still held in remembrance by the people — was Mr. S. 
Barton, of the British Consular Service in China. 
The appointment of Mr. R. Walter' as Secretary to 
Government shortly preceded that of Mr. (now Sir) 
J. H. Stewart Lockhart, Colonial Secretary of Hong- 
kong, as first civil Commissioner. 

' Ku-yii Shan is the northern peak of the Ta K'un-yu hills, 40 li 
south-east of Ning-hai city. The highest peak is Ta Pei Ting (the 
" Great Pity Peak ") or Ta Pai Ting (the " Great White Peak "). There 
are many temples and hermitages, some of unknown antiquity, others 
dating from the last decade of the ninth century a.d. There are also 
tablets and inscriptions of the Han dynasty (ending 220 a.d.). 

* Formerly of the Federated Malay States Civil Service. 


By this year (1902) Weihaiwei had been placed under 
the direct control of the Colonial Office, since which 
time it has occupied a position practically identical 
with that of a British Crown Colony, though (owing to 
technical considerations) its official designation is not 
Colony but Territor}^ The Commissioner is the head 
of the Local Government, and is therefore subject only 
to the control of His Majesty exercised through the 
Secretary of State for the Colonies. His official rank 
corresponds with that of a Lieutenant-Governor : that 
rs to say, he receives (while in office at Weihaiwei) a 
salute of fifteen guns as compared with the seventeen 
of a first-class Crown-colony Governor (such as the 
Governors of Hongkong, the Straits Settlements, 
Ceylon and Jamaica), or the nine accorded to a British 
Consul in office. His actual powers, though exercised 
in a more limited sphere, are greater than those of 
most Crown-colony Governors, for he is not con- 
trolled by a Council. 

As in Gibraltar and St. Helena, laws in Weihaiwei 
are enacted by the head of the executive alone, not 
— as the phrase usually runs elsewhere — " with the 
advice and consent of the Legislative Council." The 
Order-in-Council indicates, of course, on what lines 
legislation may take place, and all laws (called Or- 
dinances) must receive the Royal assent, or rather, 
to put it more accurately, His Majesty is advised by 
the Secretary of State " not to exercise his powers of 
disallowance." This is in accordance with the usual 
Colonial procedure. In practice, as we saw in the 
first chapter, it has been found unnecessary to enact 
more than a very small number of Ordinances for 
Weihaiwei. The people are governed in accordance 
with their own immemorial customs, and it is only 
when the fact of British occupation introduces some 
new set of conditions for which local custom does not 
provide, that legislation becomes necessary. The 
legal adviser to the local Government is ^.v officio the 
Crown Advocate at Shanghai, and he it is who, when 


necessary, drafts the legal measures to be promulgated 
in the name of the Commissioner. Such measures 
are generally copied from or closely modelled on laws 
already in force in England or in the Colony of 

The China Squadron of the British Fleet visits the 
port every summer. The fact that Weihaivvei is under 
British rule gives the Naval commander-in-chief 
perfect freedom to carry out target-practice or other 
exercises ashore and afloat under highly favourable 
conditions. But the greatest advantage that Weihaiwei 
possesses — from the naval as from the civilian point 
of view — is its good climate. It is perhaps not so 
superlatively excellent as some writers, official and 
other, have made out : but none will deny that the 
climate is " a white man's," and most will agree that 
it is, on the whole, the finest on the coast of China. 

The rainfall is not, on the average, much greater 
or much less than that of England, though it is much 
less evenly distributed than in our own country. 
This is perhaps an advantage; there is no doubt that 
the average year in Weihaiwei contains a greater 
number of " fine days " — that is, days when the sun 
shines and no rain falls — than the average year in 
England. The other side of the shield shows us 
droughts and floods ; how frequent and how destruc- 
tive are these calamities may have been gathered 
from statements made in the last chapter. The winter 
is much colder and the summer much warmer than is 
usually the case in England : in addition to which 
both cold and heat are more steady and continuous. 
But there are not the same extremes that are met with 
in Peking and other inland places. The temperature 
in winter has been known to fall to zero, but the 
average minimum may be put at about 6° (F.). The 
snowfall is not great and the roads are rarely blocked. 
Skating, owing to the lack of rivers and lakes, can 
only be indulged in to a minute extent. 

The winter north winds are intensely cold : even 



the Chinese go about muffled up to the ears in furs. 
The autumn months — September to November — are 
the most delightful of the year. The heat and rains 
of summer have passed away and the weather at 
this period is equal to that of a superb English 
summer and early autumn. The spring months are 
often delightful : but this is the season of those almost 
incessant high winds that constitute one of the chief 
blemishes of the Weihaiwei climate. Yet they are 
as nothing compared with the terrible dust-storms 
of the Chihli plains, such as make the European resi- 
dent in Peking wish himself anywhere else. July 
and August are the months of rain, damp, and heat : 
yet the temperature rarely goes higher than 94" (F.), 
and the summer climate is much less trying than that 
of Hongkong or of Shanghai. It is during those two 
months, indeed, that Weihaiwei receives most of its 
European summer visitors from the southern ports. 

When the British Squadron and the European visitors 
leave Weihaiwei in or about the month of September, 
the place is left to its own resources until the month 
of May or June in the following year. From the 
social point of view Weihaiwei suffered severel}^ from 
the disbandment of the well-known Chinese Regiment, 
the British officers of which did much to cheer the 
monotony of the winter months. A pack of harriers 
was kept by the Regiment, and hunting was indulged 
in two days a week during that period. From 
November, when the last crops were taken off the 
fields, and cross-country riding became possible, until 
the end of March, when the new crops began to come 
up and confined equestrians to the roads, hunting the 
hare was the favourite recreation of the British com- 
munity. The Regiment itself, after undergoing many 
vicissitudes, was disbanded in 1906. During its short 
career of about seven years it proved — if indeed a 
proof were needed, after the achievements of General 
Gordon — that the Chinese, properly treated and well 
trained and led, could make first-rate soldiers. 


The appearance of the rank and file of the Chinese 
Regiment on parade was exceptionally good, and 
never failed to excite admiration on the part of 
European visitors ; but their soldierly qualities were 
not tested only in the piping times of peace. They 
did good service in promptly suppressing an at- 
tempted rising in the leased Territory, and on being 
sent to the front to take part in the operations against 
the Boxers in 1900 they behaved exceedingly well 
both during the attack on Tientsin, and on the march 
to Peking. Among the officers who led them on 
those occasions were Colonel Bower, Major Bruce, 
Captain Watson and Captain Barnes.^ 

At its greatest strength the Regiment numbered 
thirteen hundred officers and men, but before the 
order for disbandment went forth the numbers had 
been reduced to about six hundred. With the Chinese 
Regiment disappeared Weihaiwei's only garrison. 
A few picked men were retained as a permanent 
police force, and three European non-commissioned 
officers were provided with appointments on the 
civil establishment as police inspectors. These men, 
in addition to an already-existing body of eight 
Chinese on Liukungtao and twelve in the European 
settlement at Port Edward, constitute the present 
(1910) Police Force of the Territory, which now 
numbers altogether fifty-five Chinese constables and 
three inspectors. 

Weihaiwei, then, is entirely destitute of troops and 
of fortifications, and in the long months of winter — 
when there is not so much as a torpedo-boat in the 
harbour — the place is practically at the mercy of any 
band of robbers that happened to regard it with a 
covetous eye. This state of things cannot be regarded 
as ideally good: yet — to touch upon a matter that might 
once have been regarded as bearing on politics, but is 

' Captain (now Lieut. -Col.) Barnes has written a book entitled On 
Active Service zvith the Chinese Regiment, which should be consulted 
by those interested in the subject. 


now a mere matter of history — it may be admitted 
that from the imperial point of view the aboHtion of 
the Chinese Regiment was a wise step. This view is 
not shared by most Englishmen in China : and as for 
the British officers, who had given several of the best 
years of their lives to the training of that regiment, 
and had learned to take in it a most justifiable pride, 
one can easily understand how bitter must have been 
their feelings of dismay and disappointment when they 
heard of the War Office's decision. Similar feelings, 
perhaps, may have agitated the mind of the " First 
Emperor" when the beautiful bridge to Fairyland, on 
which he had spent so much time and energy, began 
to crumble away before his sorrowing eyes. The 
position of the Chinese Regiment was not analogous 
to that of the native troops in India and in our other 
large imperial possessions. Its very existence was 
anomalous. The great majority of its men were 
recruited not in British but in Chinese territory,^ and 
as their employment against a European enemy of 
Great Britain was scarcely conceivable, their only 
function could have been to fight against their own 
countrymen or other Orientals. 

To persuade them to fight against China would 
necessarily have become more and more difficult as 
the Chinese Empire proceeded in the direction of 
reform and enlightenment. The Boxers, indeed, were 
theoretically regarded as rebels against China, so that 
Chinese troops in British pay could fight them with a 
clear conscience, believing or pretending to believe 
that they were fighting for the cause of their own 
Emperor as well as (incidentally) that of Great 
Britain. But the Regiment outlived the Boxer move- 
ment by several years, and the maintenance of a 
considerable body of troops (at an annual cost to the 
British taxpayer of something like ^30,000) with a 
sole view to the possibility of a similar rising at some 

' On the eve of disbandment, when the Regiment was some six 
hundred strong, only forty men were natives of the leased Territory. 


uncertain date in the future was hardly consistent 
with British common sense. Moreover, its position in 
the event of an outbreak of regular warfare between 
England and China would have been peculiar in the 
extreme, inasmuch as the men had never been re- 
quired, under the recruiting system, to abjure their 
allegiance to the Chinese Emperor, They were, in 
fact, Chinese subjects, not British. Even over the 
inhabitants of Weihaiwei, from whom a small pro- 
portion of the men was drawn, the Emperor of China 
retains theoretical sovereignty. This has been ex- 
pressly admitted by the British Government, which 
has declared that as Weihaiwei is only a " leased 
territory," its people, though under direct British rule, 
are not in the strictly legal sense " British subjects."^ 

The officers of the Regiment would no doubt have 
denied that the loyalty of the men to their British 
leaders was ever likely to fall under suspicion, but 
the fact remains that in the event of an outbreak of 
regular warfare between China and Great Britain the 
Chinese authorities might, and probably would, have 
done their utmost to induce the men of the Regiment 
to desert their colours and take service with their own 
countrymen. Many methods of inducement could have 
been employed, over and above the obvious one of 
bribery. It is only necessary to mention one that would 
have been terribly forcible — the imprisonment of the 
fathers or other senior relatives of the men who refused 
to leave the British service, and the confiscation of 
their ancestral lands. The men who deserted, in these 
circumstances, would not, perhaps, feel that they had 
much to reproach themselves vv'ith. They had taken 
service under the British flag : but did that entitle 
them to become traitors to their own country, and to 
violate the sacred bonds of filial piety ? Even if the 
Chinese soldier in British employment had been 

' It follows tliat when they go abroad they have no right to the 
support of British consuls, though they have often claimed it and have 
soinetiraes been granted it through the courtesy of the consul concerned. 


formally absolved from all allegiance to his own 
sovereign it would have been unreasonable to expect 
him to evolve a spirit of loyalty to a European monarch 
of whose existence he had but the vaguest idea, and 
to whom he was bound by no ties of sentiment. 

But it may be urged that new conditions of service 
might have been devised, under which the men of the 
Chinese Regiment would have been exempted from 
the obligation of fighting against their own country- 
men. Against whom, then, could they have fought ? 
They might possibly have been led against the 
Japanese, but no one ever supposed for a moment 
that they were being trained with a view to action 
against a Power with whom Great Britain will probably 
be the last to quarrel: and in any case they would have 
been too few in number to be of effective service on the 
field, and by their inability to take an appropriate place 
among the other units they might even have been a 
source of embarrassment. As for the assistance they 
might have rendered in the event of an attack on 
Weihaiwei by any European Power, it is only 
necessary to point out that an infantry regiment 
would have been totally pov^'erless to prevent the 
shelling of Weihaiwei by a naval force, and that if the 
British fleet had lost command of the sea, not only 
the entire Chinese regiment (or what remained of it 
after desertions had taken place), but Weihaiwei itself 
and all that it contained would have speedily become 
prizes of war to the first hostile cruiser that entered 
the harbour. 

It may be said, in conclusion of this topic, that if the 
British Government had taken the cynical view that 
China was doomed to remain in a chronic state of 
administrative inefficiency and national helplessness, 
it would no doubt have been fully justified, from its 
own standpoint, in maintaining the Regiment. That it 
decided on disbandment may be regarded as welcome 
evidence that Great Britain did not, in 1906, take an 
entirely pessimistic view of China's future. 


That the complete withdrawal of all troops was 
followed by no shadow of disorder among the people 
and no increase of crime, strikingly refutes the argu- 
ment, sometimes advanced, that the real justification 
of the existence of the Regiment was the necessity of 
relying on a local armed force for the maintenance 
of British rule and prestige, which would otherwise 
have been outraged or treated with open contempt. 
No doubt the Regiment fulfilled a most useful function 
in suppressing or preventing disorder and in helping 
to consolidate British rule during the eventful year 
of 1900 : and it may very well be that the people of 
the Territory then learned the futility of resistance to 
the British occupation. But it may be stated with 
emphasis that since the disbandment of the Regiment 
the people — perhaps from a knowledge of the fact 
that British troops and warships though not stationed 
at Weihaiwei are never very far away — have given no 
sign whatever of insubordination or restlessness/ 

So far from crime and lawlessness having increased 
since that time, they have shown a distinct tendency 
to diminish, while no trouble whatever has arisen 
with the Chinese beyond our frontier. The signifi- 
cance of this will be realised by those who know how 
easily the official classes in China can, by secret and 
powerful means, foster or stir up a general feeling 
of antagonism to foreigners. 

Perhaps it ma}^ not be out of place to mention here 
that the relations between the British officials of 
Weihaiwei and the Chinese officials of the neighbour- 
hood have always been intimate and friendly : much 
more intimate, indeed, than those normally existing 
between the Government of Hongkong and the 
magistrates and prefects of the neighbouring regions 
of Kuangtung. The result is that through the medium 

• As one reason for this it should be noted that the people still hold 
in vivid remembrance the Japanese march through their villages and 
fields in 1895. They have had some practical experience of modern 
warfare, and they are not anxious for more. 


of informal or semi-official correspondence, and by 
personal visits, a great deal of business is satisfactorily 
carried through without " fuss " or waste of time, and 
that frontier-matters which might conceivably grow 
into difficult international questions requiring diplo- 
matic intervention, are quickly and easily settled on 
the spot. 

But it must be remembered that these friendly 
relations might at any time be interrupted by the 
Chinese officials if they were to receive a hint from 
the provincial capital or from Peking that the position 
of Great Britain was to be made difficult and un- 
pleasant. One important reason why the people of 
Weihaiwei acquiesce with a good grace in British rule 
is their vague belief that we are in Weihaiwei at the 
request and with the thorough goodv/ill of the Chinese 
Government, and are in some way carrying out the 
august wishes of the Emperor. They still speak of us 
as the foreigners or *' ocean men," and of China as 
Ta Kuo, the Great Country. When they erect stone 
monuments, after the well-known Chinese practice, 
to the memory of virtuous widows and other good 
women, they still surmount the tablet with the words 
Sheiig Chilly " By decree of the Emperor." There 
is not the faintest vestige of a feeling of loyalty to 
the British sovereign, even among those who would 
be sorry to see us go away. Most of the people 
have but the haziest idea of where England is; some 
think it is " in Shanghai " or " somewhere near 
Hongkong " ; others, perhaps from some confused 
recollection of the dark-skinned British troops who 
took part in the operations of 1900, suppose that 
Great Britain and India are interchangeable terms. 

I have been asked by one of our village headmen 
(in perfect good faith) whether England were governed 
by a tsung-tu (governor-general) or by a kuo-ivang 
(king of a minor state) — the implication in either 
case being that England was far inferior in status 
to China. Thus arises among the people the notion 


that their own Emperor has for some mysterious 
reason, best known to himself, temporarily entrusted 
the administration of Weihaiwei to some English 
officials, and will doubtless decide in his own good 
time when this arrangement is to be rescinded. 
The notion does not, indeed, attain this definiteness, 
and the majority of the people well know from actual 
experience that no Chinese official, however exalted, 
has a shadow of direct authority in Weihaiwei at the 
present time ; but any attempt to persuade them that 
the Emperor could not, if he willed, cause the im- 
mediate departure of the foreigners would probably 
be a miserable failure. The long and short of the 
matter is that the Chinese of Weihaiwei acquiesce 
in British rule because their sovereign, as represented 
by the Governor of Shantung, shows them the ex- 
ample of acquiescence ; but if diplomatic troubles 
were to arise between Great Britain and China, and 
the command, direct or indirect, were to go forth from 
the Governor that the British in Weihaiwei were no 
longer to be treated with respect, a few days or weeks 
would be sufficient to bring about a startling change 
in the direction of anti-foreign feeling among the 
inhabitants of the leased Territory. 

Incessant troubles, also, would suddenly and mys- 
teriously arise on the frontier ; the magistrates of the 
neighbouring districts, notwithstanding all their past 
friendliness, would become distant and unsympathetic ; 
difficulties internal and external would become so 
serious and incessant that it would be no longer 
possible to administer the Territory without the 
presence of an armed force. In the absence of a local 
garrison the Government would be compelled to re- 
quisition the services of the ever-ready British 
marines and bluejackets ; and His Excellency the 
Vice-Admiral, obliged to detach some of the vessels 
of his squadron for special service at Weihaiwei, 
might begin ruefully to wonder whether, after all, 
Weihaiwei was worth the trouble of maintenance. 


This is a picture of gloomy possibilities which, it is 
to be hoped, will never be realised so long as the 
British occupation of Weihaiwei subsists. Unfor- 
tunately, diplomatic difficulties are not the only pos- 
sible causes of trouble. If eastern Shantung were 
afflicted with long-continued drought and consequent 
famine — not an uncommon event — or if it were visited 
by some of those lawless bands of ruffians, too 
numerous in China, who combine the business of 
robbery and murder with that of preaching the gospel 
of revolution, the position of Weihaiwei would not 
be enviable. And parts of China, be it remembered, 
are in such a condition at present that almost any 
day may witness the outbreak of violent disorder. 
A small band of hungry and desperate armed men 
with a daring leader, a carefully-prepared plan and 
a good sj^stem of espionage — were it not for 
the Boy Scouts of the Weihaiwei School, who 
are fortunately still with us ! — descend upon Port 
Edward, glut themselves with booty, and be in a safe 
hiding-place beyond the British frontier before noon 
the next day. Much more easily could any village 
or group of villages be ransacked and looted, and its 
inhabitants killed or dispersed : and the local Govern- 
ment, except by summoning extra assistance, would 
be powerless under present conditions to take any 
vigorous action. 

Trouble of this kind is much more likely to come 
from the Chinese of some distant locality than from 
the people of the Territory itself. In one very 
important respect the British have been highly 
favoured by fortune. It happens that harvests in 
Weihaiwei for several years past have been on the 
whole very good, and the people are correspondingly 
prosperous. There has not been a really bad year 
since British rule began ; moreover certain agricul- 
tural developments (especially the cultivation on a 
large scale of ground-nuts intended for export) have 
been beneficial to the soil itself, and are a steadily- 


increasing source of wealth to the farmers. With the 
loose conceptions of cause and effect common to most 
peasant-folk, many of the villagers believe that the 
good harvests and general prosperity are somehow 
due to the "luck" of their alien rulers, of which they 
derive the benefit. The gods and spirits of the land, 
they imagine, must be satisfied with the presence of 
the British : is it not obvious that they would other- 
wise show their discontent by bringing a blight on 
the fields or sending a plague of insects? 

Such is the popular argument, indefinitely felt rather 
than definitely expressed ; and there is no doubt that it 
has had some effect in inducing a feeling of content- 
ment with British rule. I have also heard it remarked 
by the people that since the coming of the English 
the villages have ceased to be decimated by the 
deadly epidemics that once visited them. A sage old 
farmer whom I asked for an explanation of the recent 
remarkable increase in the value of agricultural land 
explained it as due to the fact that the British Govern- 
ment had vaccinated all the children. This prevented 
half the members of each family from dying of small- 
pox, as had formerly been the case, and there was 
naturally an increased demand for land to supply food 
for a greater number of mouths ! The medical work 
carried out by Government is doubtless of great 
value ; but the reduced mortality among the people 
is probably chiefly due to the succession of good 
harvests, the increased facilities for trade, and the 
consequent improvement in the general conditions 
of life. A few successive years of bad crops may, 
it is to be feared, not only reduce the people to 
extreme poverty — for as a rule the land represents 
their only capital — but will also produce the epi- 
demics that inevitably follow in the wake of famine. 
That such disasters may be expected from time to 
time in the natural course of events the reader will 
have gathered from the lists of notable local events 
given in the last chapter. When they come, the 


people's faith in the fortune-controlling capacities of 
the foreigners may then sufifer a painful shock, and 
the results may not be unattended by something like 
disaffection towards their alien rulers. 

At the beginning of British rule in Weihaiwei many 
wild rumours passed current among certain sections 
of the people with reference to the intentions and 
practices of the foreigners. One such rumour was to 
the effect that the English wanted all the land for 
settlers of their own race and were going to remove 
the existing population by the simple expedient of 
poisoning all the village wells. In a few cases it was 
believed that the Government had actually succeeded in 
hiring natives to carry out this systematic murder ; 
whereupon the villagers principally affected, growing 
wild with panic, seized and tortured the unhappy men 
whom they suspected of having taken British pay for 
this nefarious purpose. One man at least was buried 
alive and another was drowned. These cases did not 
come to the knowledge of the British authorities for 
some years afterwards, long after the well-poisoning 
story had ceased to be credited even by the most 
ignorant. One of them I discovered by chance as 
lately as the summer of 1909, though the incident 
occurred nine years earlier. An unlucky man who 
for some unknown reason was understood to be a 
secret emissary of the foreigners was seized by the 
infuriated villagers and drowned in the well which he 
was said to have poisoned. The well was then filled 
up with earth and stones and abandoned. The poor 
man's wife was sold by the ringleaders to some one 
who wanted a concubine, for a sum equivalent to 
about ten pounds. 

No doubt the many horrible stories that were 
circulated about the foreigners were deliberately in- 
vented by people who, whether from some feeling 
akin to patriotism or from more selfish motives, were 
intensely anxious to arouse popular feeling against 
their alien rulers. Their plan failed, for popular 


fury was directed less against the English than against 
those of their own countrymen whom the English were 
supposed to have bribed. 

It may be said that on the whole the chief fear of 
the people in the early da3^s of British administration 
was not that they or their families would be slaughtered 
or dispossessed of their property, or personally ill- 
treated, but that they would be overtaxed ; and the 
disturbances which arose at the time of the delimita- 
tion of the frontier in 1899 and 1900 were in part 
traceable to wild rumours as to the means to be 
adopted by the foreigners for the raising of revenue. 
It was thought, for example, that taxes were to be 
imposed on farmyard fowls. Taxation has been 
increased, as a matter of fact, under British rule. 
The land-tax (the principal source of revenue) has 
been doubled, and licence-fees and dues of various 
kinds have had the natural result of raising the price 
of certain commodities. But these unattractive features 
of British rule are on the whole counterbalanced, in the 
opinion of the majority of the people, by comparative 
(though by no means absolute) freedom from the petty 
extortions practised by official underlings in China, 
by the gradual development of a fairly brisk local 
trade, by the influx of money spent in the port by 
British sailors, by the facilities given by British mer- 
chant ships for the cheap and safe export of local 
produce, and by the useful public works undertaken 
by Government for direct public benefit. 

The amount spent on public improvements is indeed 
minute compared with the enormous sums devoted to 
these purposes in Hongkong, Singapore, and Kiao- 
chou, yet it forms a respectable proportion of the 
small local revenue. That the construction of metalled 
roads, in particular, is heartily welcomed throughout 
the Territory is proved by three significant facts : in 
the first place the owners of arable land through 
which the new roads pass hardly ever make any 
demand for pecuniary compensation, unless they 


happen to be almost desperately poor ; in the second 
place, wheeled traffic, which a few years ago would 
have been a ludicrous impossibility in any part of the 
Territory, is rapidly becoming common ; and in the 
third place the people, on their own initiative, are ex- 
tending the road-system in various localities at their 
own expense. It may seem almost incredible that, 
in one case at least, certain houses that obstructed 
traffic in a new village road were voluntarily pulled 
down by their owners and built further back : yet not 
only did they receive no compensation from Govern- 
ment, but they did not even trouble to report what 
they had done. Very recently a petition was received 
praying the Weihaiwei Government to urge the 
Government of Shantung to extend the Weihaiwei 
road-system into Chinese territory, especially to the 
extent of enabling cart traffic to be opened up between 
the port of Weihaiwei and the neighbouring district- 
cities of jung-ch'eng, Wen-teng and Ning-hai. The 
Shantung Government has been addressed on the 
subject by the Commissioner of Weihaiwei, and the 
Governor has smiled upon the project ; though as he 
has since been transferred to another province it is 
doubtful whether anything will be done in the matter 
at present. So long as Weihaiwei remains in British 
hands the Provincial Government, naturally enough, 
has no desire to extend the trade facilities of that 
port to the possible disadvantage of the Chinese port 
of Chefoo. 

On the whole, the more intelligent members of the 
native community in Weihaiwei may be said to be fully 
conscious of the advantages directly and indirectly 
conferred upon them by British rule, though this is 
far from implying that they wish that rule to be 
continued indefinitely. Some of them are even aware 
of the fact that they owe many of those advantages 
to a philanthropist whom they have never seen — the 
uncomplaining (or complaining) British taxpayer. 
The Territory is, in fact, so far from being self- 


supporting that a subsidy of several thousands of 
pounds from the British Exchequer is required to 
meet the annual deficit in the local budget.^ The 
Government is conducted on extremely economical 
lines, indeed expenditure has been cut down to the 
point of parsimony, yet it is as well to remember 
that from the point of view of local resources the 
administration is costly in the extreme. A large 
increase of trade would no do-ubt soon enable the local 
Government to balance its books without assistance 
from England, but there are no indications at present 
that such an expansion is likely to take place. 

British colonial methods do not, as a rule, tolerate 
a lavish expenditure on salaries or on needless 
multiplication of official posts. In these respects 
Weihaiwei is not exceptional. There are less than 
a dozen Europeans of all grades on the civil establish- 
ment, and of these only four exercise executive or 
magisterial authority. Since 1906 the whole Territory 
has been divided for administrative purposes into 
twenty-six districts : over each district, which con- 
tains on the average about a dozen villages, presides 
a native District Headman {Tsuug-ttDig) whose chief 
duties are to supervise the collection of the land-tax, 
to distribute to the separate Village Headmen copies 
of all notices and proclamations issued by Govern- 
ment, to distribute deed-forms to purchasers and 
sellers of real property, and to use his influence 
generally in the interests of peace and good order 
and in the discouragement of litigation. For these 
services he is granted only five (Mexican) dollars a 
month from Government, but he is also allowed 
a small percentage on the sale of Government deed- 
forms (for which a fee is charged) and receives in 

' For details of revenue and expenditure, as well as trade returns 
and other statistics, the reader is referred to the Colonial Office List 
(published yearly by authority) and to the local Government's Re- 
ports which are printed annually and presented to both Houses of 


less regular ways occasional presents, consisting 
chiefly of food-stuffs, of which the Government takes 
no notice unless it appears that he is using his 
position as a means of livelihood or for purposes of 

The land-tax is based on the old land-registers 
handed over by the Chinese magistrates of Wen-teng 
and Jung-ch'eng, and as they had been badly kept up, 
or rather not kept up at all, for some scores of years 
previously, the present relations between the land 
under cultivation and the land subject to taxation 
are extremely indefinite. It is but very rarely that 
a man can point to his land-tax receipts as proof 
that he owns or has long cultivated any disputed 
area. Only by making a cadastral survey of the 
whole Territory would it be possible to place the 
land-tax sj^stem on a proper basis. At present the tax 
is in practice (with certain exceptions) levied on each 
village as a whole rather than on individual families. 
For many years past every village has paid through 
its headman or committee of headmen a certain sum 
of money which by courtesy is called land-tax. How 
that amount is assessed among the various families 
is a matter which the people decide for themselves, 
on the general understanding that no one should 
be called upon to pay more than his ancestors paid 
before him unless the family property has been 
considerably increased. 

The Chinese Government did not and the British 
Government does not make any close enquiries as to 
whether each cultivator pays his proper proportion or 
whether a certain man is paying too much or is paying 
nothing at all. It is undoubtedly true that a great 
deal of new land has been brought under cultivation 
since the Chinese land-tax registers were last revised, 
and that the cultivators are guilty of technical offences 
in not reporting such land to Government and getting 
it duly measured and valued for the assessment of 
land-tax : but these are offences which have been 


condoned by the Chinese authorities in this part of 
China for many years past, and it would be unjust or 
at least inexpedient for the British Government to 
show greater severity in such matters than is shown 
on the Chinese side of the frontier. The British 
Government has, indeed, by a stroke of the pen 
doubled the land-tax, that is, it takes twice as much 
from each village as it did six years ago, so it may at 
least congratulate itself on deriving a larger revenue 
from this source than used to come to the net of 
Chinese officialdom. The total amount of the doubled 
tax only amounts to about $24,000 (Mex.) a year, 
which is equivalent to not much more than ^2,000 
sterling. The whole of this is brought to the coffers 
of the Government without the aid of a single tax- 
collector and without the expenditure of a dollar. In 
the autumn of each year proclamations are issued 
stating the current rate of exchange as between the 
local currency and the Mexican dollar and announcing 
that the land-tax will be received, calculated according 
to that rate, upon certain specified days. The money 
is brought to the Government offices at Port Edward 
by the headmen, receipts are issued, and the matter 
is at an end until the following year. Litigation 
regarding land-tax payments is exceedingly rare and 
the whole system works without a hitch. 

For administrative and magisterial purposes the 
Territory is divided into two Divisions, a North and 
a South. The North Division contains only nine of 
the twenty-six Districts, and is much smaller in both 
area and population than the South, but it includes 
the island of Liukung and the settlement of Port 
Edward. Its southern limits^ extend from a point 
south of the village of Shuang-tao on the west to a 
short distance south of Ch'ang-feng on the east. A 
glance at the map will shov/ that it comprises the 
narrower or peninsular portion of the Territory. The 
headquarters of this Division are at Port Edward, 

* See the blue line in map. 



where is also situated the office of the Commissioner, 
The North Division is under the charge of the North 
Division Magistrate, who is also Secretary to Govern- 
ment and holds a dormant commission to administer 
the government of the Territory in the Commissioner's 
absence. The South Division comprises all the rest 
of the leased Territory, including seventeen out of the 
twenty-six Districts, and is presided over by the South 
Division Magistrate, who is also District Officer. His 
headquarters are at Wen-ch'uan-t'ang^ or Hot Springs, 
a picturesque locality near the old boundary-line 
between the Jung-ch'eng and Wen-teng districts and 
centrally situated with regard to the southern portion 
of the leased Territory. Separate courts, independent 
of one another and co-ordinate in powers, are held by 
the North and South Division Magistrates at their 
respective headquarters. 

The District Officer controls a diminutive police 
force of a sergeant and seven men, all Chinese. His 
clerks, detectives and other persons connected with 
his staff, are also Chinese. Besides the District 
Officer himself there is no European Government ser- 
vant resident in the South Division, which contains 231 
out of the 3 1 5 villages of the Territory and a population 
estimated at 100,000. The whole of the land frontier, 
nearly forty miles long, lies within this Division. 

Under the Commissioner, the Secretary to Govern- 
ment and Magistrate (North Division), and the District 
Officer and Magistrate (South Division), are the exe- 
cutive and judicial officers of the Government. There 
is also an Assistant Magistrate, who has temporarily 
acted as District Officer, and who, besides discharging 
magisterial work from time to time, carries out various 
departmental duties in the North Division. The 
functions of the North and South Division Magistrates 
are quite as miscellaneous as are those of the prefects 
and district-magistrates — the " father-and-mother " 
officials — of China. There are no posts in the civil 

» See pp. 53, 54, 70, 400. 


services of the sister-colonies of Hongkong and Singa- 
pore wliich are in all respects analogous to those 
held by these officers ; but on the whole a Weihaiwei 
magistrate may be regarded as combining the duties 
of Registrar-General (Protector of Chinese), Puisne 
Judge, Police Magistrate and Captain-Superintendent 
of Police. Most of the time of the Magistrates is, 
unfortunately, spent in the courts. Serious crime, 
indeed, is rare in Weihaiwei. There has not been a 
single case of murder in the Territory for seven years 
or more, and most of the piracies and burglaries 
have been committed by unwelcome visitors from the 
Chinese side of the frontier. But the Weihaiwei 
magistrates do not deal merely with criminal and 
police cases. They also exercise unlimited civil 
jurisdiction ; and as litigation in Weihaiwei has shown 
a steady increase with every year of British adminis- 
tration, their duties in this respect are by no means 

Beyond the Magisterial courts there are no other 
courts regularly sitting. There is indeed a nebulous 
body named in the Order-in-Council " His Majesty's 
High Court of Weihaiwei," but this Court very rarely 
sits. It consists of the Commissioner and a Judge, 
or of either Commissioner or Judge sitting separately. 
The Assistant Judge of the British Supreme Court 
at Shanghai is ex ojficio Judge of the High Court of 
W^eihaiwei ; but the total number of occasions on 
which his services have been requisitioned in con- 
nection with both civil and criminal cases during the 
last five or six years — that is, since his appointment — 
is less than ten. The Commissioner, sitting alone as 
High Court, has in a few instances imposed sentences 
in the case of offences " punishable with penal servi- 
tude for seven years or upwards,"^ and the Judge has 
on three or four occasions visited Weihaiwei for the 
purpose of trying cases of manslaughter. The civil 
cases tried by the High Court — whether represented 

* See Weihaiwei Order-in-Cotmcil, Clause 2 1 (3). 


by Commissioner or by Judge — number only two, 
though the civil cases on which judgment is given 
in Weihaiwei (by the magistrates acting judicially) 
number from one thousand upwards in a year. 

This curious state of things is primarily due to the 
fact that Weihaiwei, with its slender resources, cannot 
afford to support a resident judge, and has therefore 
to content itself with the help, in very exceptional 
circumstances, of one of the judges of a court situated 
hundreds of miles away ; but the existing conditions, 
whereby the magistrates perform the work of judges, 
are legally sanctioned by a clause in the Order-in- 
Council, which lays it down that " the whole or any 
part of the jurisdiction and authority of the High 
Court for or in respect of any district may, subject 
to the provisions of this Order, and of any Ordinance 
made thereunder, be exercised by the magistrate (if 
any) appointed to act for that district and being 
therein."^ The rights of the High Court are safe- 
guarded by the declaration that it ** shall have con- 
current jurisdiction in every such district, and may 
order any case, civil or criminal, pending before a 
magistrate, to be removed into the High Court." ^ In 
practice, it may be said, all criminal cases except the 
most serious, and all civil cases of any and every kind, 
are tried in Weihaiwei by the magistrates of the North 
and South Divisions, acting either as magistrates 
merel}^ or as judges with the delegated powers of 
the High Court. 

The Court of Appeal from the High Court of Wei- 
haiwei (and therefore from the magistrates acting as 
High Court) is the Supreme Court of Hongkong. This 
arrangement has been in force since the promulgation 
of the Weihaiwei Order-in-Council in July 1901 ; yet 
during nine subsequent years not a single appeal has 
been made. This is due to three main causes : firstly, 
there are in Weihaiwei neither barristers nor solicitors 

' See Weihaiwei Order-in-Coiincil, Clause 18. 
3 Ibid., Clause 18(1). 



DISTRICT officer's QUARTERS (sCC p. lOO). 

p. lOo] 




by whom litigants might be advised to appeal. Every 
party to a suit appears in court in his own person, 
and states his case either orally or by means of 
written pleadings called Petitions. If he loses his 
case the matter is at an end unless he can show just 
cause why a re-hearing should be granted. Secondly, 
the legal costs of an appeal to a Hongkong court 
would be prohibitive for all but a minute fraction of 
the people of Weihaiwei. It is questionable whether, 
outside Liukungtao and Port Edward, there are more 
than a dozen families that would not be totally ruined 
if called upon to pay the costs of such an appeal. 
Thirdly, there are probably not twenty Chinese in the 
Territory who are aware that an appeal is possible. 

Apart from the magistrates, there are very few 
Europeans employed under the Government of Wei- 
haiwei. There is a Financial Assistant, who also 
(somewhat incongruousl}^ supervises the construction 
of roads and other public works and the planting of 
trees ; and there are, as already mentioned, three 
Inspectors of Police. These officers (with the excep- 
tion of one Inspector stationed at Liukungtao) all 
reside at Port Edward. Finally there are two Medical 
Officers, of whom one resides on the Island, the other 
on the Mainland. Such is the European section of 
the Civil Service of Weihaiwei, — a little body of sober 
and industrious persons who, like the members of 
similar services elsewhere, are frequent grumblers, 
who always consider themselves ill-used and their 
services under-estimated, but who will generally admit, 
if pressed, that the British flag floats over many 
corners of the earth less attractive and less desirable 
than Weihaiwei. 



The entire absence of both branches of the legal 
profession is perhaps (be it said without disrespect 
to the majesty of the law) a matter on which the 
people of Weihaiwei are to be congratulated, for it 
enables them to enjoy their favourite pastime of 
litigation at a minimum of cost. The cheapness of 
litigation in Weihaiwei is indeed in the eyes of many 
of the people one of the most attractive features of 
British rule: though, if only they could be brought 
to realise the fact, it is also one of the most dangerous, 
for it tends to diminish the authority of village elders 
and clan-patriarchs and so to weaken the whole social 
structure upon which village life in China is based. 
The people have discovered that even their most 
trifling disputes are more easily, quickly and cheaply 
settled by going to law than by resorting to the 
traditional Chinese plan of invoking the assistance 
of " peace-talkers " ; for these peace-talkers are usually 
elderly relatives, village headmen or friendly neigh- 
bours, who must at least be hospitably entertained, 
during their lengthy deliberations, with pork and 
vegetables and sundry pots of wine, whereas the 
British magistrate is understood to hanker after no 
such delicacies. Thus while the people recognise, 
with more or less gratitude, the purity of the British 
courts and the readiness of the officials to listen to all 



complaints, some of the wiser among them contem- 
plate with some anxiety a system which is almost 
necessarily productive of excessive litigation and of 
protracted family feuds. There can be no part of the 
British Empire where litigation costs less than it does 
here, and indeed there is probably no part where 
it costs so little. There are no court fees, and the 
magistrate himself not only takes the place of counsel 
for both plaintiff and defendant, thereby saving the 
parties all legal costs, but also assumes the troublesome 
burden of the collection and investigation of evidence. 
Until recently there existed a class of licensed 
petition-writers who charged litigants a small fee for 
drawing up petitions addressed to the court. After 
several of these petition-writers had been convicted 
of bribery and extortion and other malpractices, it 
was found necessary to withdraw all their licences 
and abolish the system. At present every litigant 
who cannot write and has no literary relative who 
will oblige him by drawing up a petition for him, 
simply comes into the court when and how he 
likes and makes his statement by word of mouth. 
Unlettered peasant-folk are garrulous and incon- 
sequential all the world over, and those of Weihaiwei 
are not exceptional : so it may be easily understood 
that the necessity of taking down long rambling 
statements made in rustic Chinese by deaf old men 
and noisy and unreasonable women adds no slight 
burden to the labours of an English magistrate. Un- 
necessary litigation is indeed becoming so common 
a feature of daily life that the Government is at 
present contemplating the introduction of a system of 
court fees which, while not preventing the people 
from making just complaints before the magistrates, 
will tend to discourage them from running to the 
courts before they have made the least attempt to 
settle their quarrels in a manner more consistent with 
the traditional usages of their country. That some- 
thing of this kind must be done to check the present 


rush of litigants to the courts is daily becoming more 

In the South Division court ^ the proceedings are 
carried on entirely in the Chinese language. The 
speech of the people, it may be said, is a form of 
Mandarin (so called) which after a little practice is 
easily intelligible to a speaker of Pekingese. Collo- 
quialisms are naturally numerous among so remote 
and isolated a community as the inhabitants of north- 
eastern Shantung, and in some respects the dialect 
approximates to that of Nanking rather than to the 
soft speech of the northern capital. 

The absence of Counsel is no hardship to the 
people, for in China professional lawyers— as we 
understand the term — are unknown. "A man who 
attempted to appear for another in a Court of Justice," 
as Sir Robert Douglas sa3's, " would probably render 
himself liable to a penalty under the clause in the 
Penal Code which orders a flogging for any person 
who excites or promotes litigation."- In Weihaiwei 
only once has a native — in this case a Christian 
convert — made the least attempt to conduct a case 
for and on behalf of another individual, and he, though 
it was impossible under British methods to have him 
flogged, was duly punished for this as well as for 
other offences. In the courts of Weihaiwei, then, as 
in those of China, each of the parties to a suit argues 
out his own case in his own way, though it is upon 
the magistrate himself that the duty devolves of 
separating the wheat from the chaff and selecting such 
parts of the litigant's argument as appear to have a 
real bearing on the points at issue. In all essentials, 
therefore, cases are heard and dealt with in Weihaiwei 
very much as they are heard and dealt with in China ; 
thus a man from the Chinese side of the frontier who 
comes into court as plaintiff in Weihaiwei finds him- 
self — especially if he is used to litigation in his own 
country — quite at home. As may be easily imagined, 
' See p. 98. ' Society in China, p. 107. 


lawsuits are not conducted with the frigid decorum 
that usually marks the hearing of a civil case in 
England ; the facts that plaintiff and defendant appear 
in person, each to conduct his own case, and that each 
enjoys practically unlimited freedom to say what 
he likes about his opponent and about things in 
general, introduce a dramatic element which is lacking 
in the more stately procedure of Western law-courts. 
Instead of the patient discussion of minute points of 
law and the careful citation of precedents and authori- 
ties, there are clamorous recitals of real or imaginary 
woes, bitter denunciations, passionate appeals for 
justice. A rather remarkable feature of all this, how- 
ever, is the absence of gesturing. Hands are not 
clasped or raised to heaven, the movements of the 
body show no signs of deep feeling, even the features 
— though their owner is inwardly seething with 
emotion — seem to remain almost passive. Is this a 
sign of remoteness from savagery ? The people of 
England have been singled out as examples of those 
who make a minimum use of gesture: but Englishmen 
cannot be compared in this respect with the Chinese. 

The side-lights that legal proceedings throw upon 
the moral and intellectual qualities of the people are 
inexhaustible in their variety. Under the stress of 
a burning sense of wrong or dread of disaster, or in 
the intensity of his anxiety to win a lawsuit on which 
he has staked his happiness, the Chinese, though he 
still refrains from what he considers the vulgarity of 
gesturing, casts to the winds the reserve and cere- 
monious decorum of speech that on more placid 
occasions often seem to be part of his personality. 
He can tell lies with audacity, though his lies indeed 
are not always rightly so called, and he has the most 
extraordinary aptitude for simulating strong emotions 
with the object of enlisting judicial sympathy; but, in 
spite of these drawbacks, it is during the prosecution 
of a lawsuit that the strong and weak elements in his 
character stand out in strongest relief. 


If the litigant can write (though comparatively few 
of the people of Weihaiwei can do so) he is allowed 
to state his case in the form of a written petition. A 
typical Chinese petition may be said to be divided 
into three parts : firstly, the " case " of the petitioner is 
stated in full, strong emphasis being laid on his innate 
love of right and his horror of people who disobey 
the law ; secondly, his opponent, the defendant, is held 
up to obloquy as a rogue and a hatcher of villainies ; 
thirdly, the magistrate himself, to whom the petition 
is addressed, is cunningly described as having a mar- 
vellous faculty for separating right from wrong, a 
highly developed sense of justice, and a peculiarly 
strong love for law-abiding people. The defendant, 
when summoned, will of course adopt similar tactics. 
If his case is weak and he has nothing very definite 
to urge in his own favour, he will try to prejudice the 
magistrate against the plaintiff by describing him as 
quarrelsome and fond of law-suits — no small offence 
in China. His petition may then run somewhat in 
these words, which I translate from a petition recently 
received : " Plaintiff is an audacious fellow and cares 
not how often he goes to law. He is not afraid of 
officials and loves litigation. When he comes home 
from the courts he uses boastful words and says, 
'What fun it is to go to law.'"' 

Both plaintiff and defendant consider it a good plan 
to assume an attitude of weakness, docilit}^, and a 
constitutional inability to contend with the woes thrust 
upon them by a wicked world. ** For several 3'ears," 
says one, " I bore my miseries in silence and dared 
not take action, but now things are different, for I 
have heard the glad news that the Great Man' settles 

• Kuei chia shih shih yang yen i ta kudh ssii wet lo shih. 

* Ta-jhi. The term Ta Lao-yeh (see p. 15) is more correct for a 
"father-and-mother" official, but Ta-jcn implies higher rank, and the 
Chinese finding from experience that nearly all European officials are 
foolish enough to prefer the loftier form of address, wisely make use of 
it in addressing a foreigner whom they desire to propitiate. 


cases as if he were a Spirit."' One of the commonest 
expressions in a Chinese petition has an odd look 
when it is literally translated : " I the Little Man am 
the Great Man's baby." 

When a lawsuit arises out of complicated family 
disputes, such as those concerned with inheritance 
and adoption, there are sometimes representatives of 
four generations in the court at the same time. Babes 
and small children, if their rights or interests are in 
any way involved, are brought into court by their 
mothers, not with any idea that the evidence of infants 
would be accepted, even if it could be intelligibly given, 
but merely in order that the magistrate may see that 
the children really exist and have not been invented 
for the occasion. Sometimes they appear in the court 
for the practical reason that all the adults of the family 
have come to prosecute their lawsuit and that no one 
is left at home to take care of them. The presence of 
young boys of twelve or fourteen is very useful, as 
they are often able to express themselves and even to 
state the material points of a case far more briefly and 
intelligibly than their garrulous elders. If the case is 
an important one the court is often filled by cousins 
and aunts and interested neighbours of the litigants, 
and these people are all ready to swear that plaintiff 
or defendant, as the case may be, is a man of pre- 
eminent virtue who has never committed a wrong 
action or entertained an unrighteous thought in his 
life, while his opponent is a noted scoundrel who is 
the terror and bully of the whole countryside. These 
exaggerations are merely resorted to as a method of 
emphasising one view of the matter in dispute, and 
are not, as a rule, seriously intended to mislead the 
magistrate so much as to give a gentle bias to his 
mind. If, as very frequently happens, the magistrate 
has occasion to ask a witness why he has made a 
number of obvious and unnecessary misstatements, 
he merely replies with childlike blandness : Ta 

' Ta-jen tuan shih ju shen. 


jcn micn-cWien hsiao-ti pu kan sa huang — " In the 
Great Man's presence the Little One would not 
dare to tell a lie." 

When arguing out their cases in court litigants 
seldom lose their temper — alwa3^s a sign of very " bad 
form " in China — but they often assail each other in 
very vigorous language. Men of some education often 
make a show of leaving it to the magistrate to unmask 
the evil nature of their opponent. " If the magistrate 
will only look at that man's face," they say, "he will 
see that the fellow is a rogue." The remark of course 
implies, and is intended to imply, that the magistrate 
is a man of consummate perspicacity who cannot be 

What constitutes one of the gravest difficulties from 
a European point of view in settling civil disputes 
between Chinese is that the plain unvarnished truth 
is seldom presented, even when a recital of the bare 
facts would be strong enough to ensure a favourable 
judgment. Yet I am far from wishing to imply that 
the Chinese are naturally liars. An inaccurate state- 
ment unaccompanied by an intention to deceive does 
not constitute a lie; and many such statements 
habitually made by Chinese do not and are not 
intended to deceive other Chinese to whom they are 
addressed. That they often deceive a European is 
no doubt a fact ; but the fault lies with the European's 
want of knowledge and experience of the Chinese 
character, not with the Chinese, who are merely using 
forms of speech customary in their country. Why 
should a Chinese be expected to alter his traditional 
way of saying things merely because it differs from 
the foreign wa}^ ? I am not convinced that a Chinese 
intentionally deceives or tries to deceive his own 
countrymen — that is, lies to them — much oftener than 
the average European deceives or tells a lie to his 
neighbour. Before we say of a Chinese, "This man 
has told me a lie," it would perhaps be well to ask 
ourselves, " Is the statement made by this man in- 


tended to deceive me ? Is it such that it would deceive 
one of his own people?" 

Perhaps it should not be necessary to labour this 
point, but there is no doubt that missionaries and 
others who feel irresistibly impelled to emphasise the 
darker sides of the Chinese character are apt to make 
the most of the supposed national predisposition to 
falsehood. For instance, the Rev. J. Macgowan in Suk- 
liglits on Chinese Life^ says, much too strongly, " It may 
be laid down as a general and axiomatic truth, that 
it is impossible from hearing what a Chinaman sa^'s 
to be quite certain of what he actually means." On 
the other hand, I have known missionaries accept the 
word of their ov/n Chinese converts, as against that of 
non-Christians, with a most astonishing and sometimes 
unjustifiable readiness. Some go so far as to imply 
that a non-Christian Chinese who speaks the truth is a 
person to be marvelled at. " Albeit he is a Confucian ist," 
wrote a missionary to me, " this man may be relied on 
to speak the truth." 

The foreigner who wished to prove that the Chinese 
are liars might find abundant proof ready to his hand 
in the false evidence that is given every day in the 
Weihaiwei courts. Yet the longer and oftener he 
watched and listened to Chinese litigants and wit- 
nesses, the less satisfied would he become as to the 
reliability of his '* proof." The English magistrate 
finds that as time goes on he becomes less and less 
likely to be deceived or led astray about any material 
point owing to the direct misstatements of witnesses. 
It is not so much that he " sees through " them as that 
he understands their points of view. To say that in 
due time he will be totally free from any liability to be 
misled would, of course, be to claim for him infallibility 
or omniscience ; but there is no doubt that as his 
knowledge and experience of Chinese character grows, 
the less ready will he be to label the Chinese crudely as 
"liars." For the native magistrate, who knows without 

• See p 2, 


special training his countrymen's character and their 
pecuHarities of thought and speech, it is, of course, 
much easier than it is for the European to detect the 
element of truth that lies embedded in the absurd and 
inaccurate statements made before him in court. To 
say that even a Chinese magistrate can always be sure 
when a man is speaking the truth would certainly be 
ridiculous ; there are accomplished liars in China as in 
Europe, just as there are forgers so skilful that they 
can deceive experts in handwriting ; but he is at least 
able to make allowances for inaccuracy and hyperbole 
which, though they may deceive the foreigner, will not 
deceive the native, and should not therefore be con- 
demned as deliberate falsehood. 

Instances of these exaggerations and misstatements 
occur every day throughout China and in Weihaiwei. 
If A wants redress against B, who has removed a 
landmark and encroached upon his land, he will pro- 
bably add, in his petition, that B is the author of deep 
villainies, a truculent and masterful dare-devil, and a 
plotter of conspiracies against the public welfare. One 
such petition contained remarks which I translate 
almost word for word. " After I had discovered that 
he had stolen some of my land I went to his house 
and tried to reason with him in a persuasive manner. 
He refused to listen, and reviled me in the most shock- 
ing terms. He then seized my mother and my children 
and beat them too. They are covered with wounds 
and unable to stand ; in fact, they are barely alive. 
So I had no resort but to approach the magistrate 
and ask him to enquire into the matter so that the 
water may fall and the rocks appear (that is, the truth 
will be made manifest), justice will be done to the 
afflicted and the cause of the humble vindicated, and 
the gratitude of your petitioner and his descendants 
will be without limit." The real point at issue was 
the disputed ownership of the land. No physical 
wounds had been inflicted upon any member of the 
family, and no fighting had taken place; but hard 


words had been freely bandied about, and the female 
members of the family, as so very frequently occurs 
in China, had shrieked themselves into a paroxysm of 
rage which had left them exhausted and voiceless. To 
have taken the good man at his word with regard to 
the assault, and to have called upon him to produce 
evidence thereof, would have caused him pain and 
astonishment. All he wanted to do was to make out 
that his opponent was a rascal, and was therefore the 
kind of person who might naturally be expected to 
filch people's land. 

But how, it may be asked, is the magistrate to know 
which is the true accusation and which is the false 
one ? There are many indications to guide him, 
and a short cross-examination should elicit the true 
facts very quickl}^ even if the wording of the petition 
itself were not sufficient. In this particular instance 
it need only be pointed out that had a murderous 
assault really taken place, the victims would certainly 
have been brought to the court for a magisterial 
inspection of their wounds. Had they been unable 
to move they would have been carried in litters. That 
the wounds in an assault case should be shown to the 
magistrate as soon as possible after the occurrence is 
regarded as very necessary — and naturally so, con- 
sidering how little value could be attached, in the 
present state of medical and surgical knowledge in 
China, to the evidence of a native doctor. Sometimes 
the court is invaded by a wild-looking creature with 
torn clothes and matted hair, who, judging from the 
blood on his face and head, must be covered with 
hideous gashes and gaping wounds. He begins to 
blurt out accusations of brutal assault against his 
neighbour ; but before allowing him to pour forth 
his tale of woe, a wise magistrate will require him to 
be removed and well combed and washed. In all pro- 
bability he will come back a new man, the picture of 
good health, and free from stain or bruise ; and if he 
is asked to show his wounds, he will point to a long- 


healed scar, or a birth-mark, or some sHght scratch 
that might have been, and quite possibly was, inflicted 
by his neighbour's wife's finger-nails. Then, not in 
the least degree abashed, he will proceed to tell the 
tale of his real woes, and will make no further 
reference to the little matter of his physical ill- 

The causes of litigation in Weihaiwei are endless, 
but a large proportion of the cases are the results of 
more or less trivial family quarrels. When a father has 
resigned the family property into his sons' hands and 
becomes dependent on them for support, he ceases to be 
the active head of the family. He must of course con- 
tinue to be treated with obedience and respect, and very 
few fathers in China have any real cause to accuse a son 
of unfilial behaviour. But very old men, in China and 
elsewhere, often become petulant and hard to please, 
and it is they who, perhaps in a fit of temper, are the 
most likely to bring actions against their sons and 
daughters-in-law. An apparently crazy old man came 
to me with this story. " I am ninety-two years old. My 
son Li Kuei is undutiful. He won't feed me. I have 
no teeth, and therefore have to eat soft things, and his 
wife won't cook them for me." The facts (easily ascer- 
tained by the court) were that the old man's digestive 
powers were failing, and that being unable to assimi- 
late even the softest of food, he erroneously fancied 
himself to be ill-treated. Having discovered that he 
had several nephews who were ready to protect him 
in the case of any real grievance, I informed him that 
out of consideration for extreme old age the court 
could not allow people of over ninety years old to 
prosecute their suits in person when they had relatives 
to do it for them. But if the poor man had lost 
his teeth, it was clear that the court had erred in 
supposing that he had also lost his wits; for after 
acquiescing in the ninety-year rule and going away 
without a murmur, he reappeared two days later and 
explained that he had made a stupid mistake about 


his age : he was not ninety-two, but only eight}?-- 

The next case chosen as typical of Weihaiwei deals 
with a quarrel between a woman and her male cousin. 
'* I have two houses," said the man. " I mortgaged 
one of them to my cousin (a woman), but subsequently 
redeemed it. Then I went to sea for several years. 
On coming home this year I found that she had 
treated the house as if it were her own, though I 
had long since redeemed it. She had also annexed 
some of my furniture. I told the headman. The 
headman said I had better let my cousin have her 
own way for the sake of keeping the peace. I agreed. 
But I have a nephew to whom I want to give the 
house. My cousin refuses to let him take possession." 
The difficulty about the house was duly settled by the 
court, but a few days later the plaintiff returned with 
further complaints. " I have now nothing to say 
against my cousin," he said, " except that she has 
stolen some more of my furniture — my cooking-pot, 
to be precise — and has torn down some of the thatch 
of my roof to light her fire with. She also reviles 
me in public and in private. I do not want her to 
be severely punished, but I should like her to be 
admonished by the magistrate." 

Serious cases very frequently arise out of the most 
trumpery quarrels and differences of opinion between 
one villager and another. If men only are concerned 
in such a quarrel their own good sense, or that of 
their neighbours, usually prevents the matter from 
going to extremes, but if women are concerned, cases 
of homicide or suicide are sometimes the outcome. 
The question of the ownership of a few blocks of 
stone was the origin of a quarrel that might easily 
have had a tragic ending. The plaintiffs statement 
in court was as follows : " I accuse Chiang Te-jang 
of beating my wife and myself. At sunset I went 
home and found that defendant had beaten my wife. 
I went to his house, and he met me at the door. I 



reasoned with him, and said that if my wife had given 
any cause of complaint he should have told me about 
it. He replied that my wife deserved a beating. I 
asked him why he didn't beat me instead, whereupon 
he at once took me at my word and thrashed me 
soundly." In reply to questions he went on : "I did 
not strike him back, as I would not be guilty of a 
breach of the peace, and thereby appear to be hold- 
ing the law in contempt. After I had been beaten 
I went home. My wife told me the defendant had 
beaten her because she refused to let him take 
away some stone from our backyard. The stone 
belonged to me." In answer to this the defendant 
stated : " I never struck plaintiff or his wife. The 
stone is my own. Plaintiffs wife was fighting with 
my mother, and my mother scratched her face. My 
mother got the worst of the fight. She is lying in 
a basket outside the court, as she is unable to move. 
I brought her here to have her wounds inspected 
by the magistrate." 

The more intelligent members of the Chinese com- 
munity of Weihaiwei soon discovered, after the arrival 
of the foreigners, that the British system of adminis- 
tration and of dealing with civil suits in the Courts 
differed from that of China in nothing so conspicuously 
as in the absence of " squeezes " and the ease with 
which the magistrate could be directly approached 
by the poorest litigant. There are always large 
numbers, however, who are afraid to bring their plaints 
direct to the court, either from a fear that they will 
be prevented by the police or other native employees 
of the Government from gaining the foreign magis- 
trate's ear, or because they dare not openly bring a 
lawsuit or make accusations against some influential 
person or family in their own village. For the benefit 
of such timid individuals I long ago set up, on the 
roadside in the neighbourhood of the South Division 
court, a locked letter-box for the reception of any and I 
every description of petition or memorial which the ! 


writers for some reason or other preferred not to 
bring openly to the court. Into this box, the contents 
of which are examined by myself alone, petitions of 
various kinds are dropped almost daily : and though 
a large majority are anonymous denunciations of the 
private enemies of the writers, and are immediately 
destroyed, a considerable number have led to some 
discoveries of great value from the administrative 
point of view, and have sometimes greatly facilitated 
the labours of the court in ascertaining the rights 
and wrongs of pending cases. 

If the petition-box served no other good purpose it 
would still be useful as throwing interesting lights on 
certain aspects of the character of the people. The 
petitions received through this medium are so hetero- 
geneous that it is difficult to select a typical specimen 
for purposes of illustration ; but the following trans- 
lation of a document recently found in the petition- 
box may give some idea of the characteristic features 
of a large class. 

** Your Honour's nameless petitioner humbly ex- 
poses the evil deeds of a brutal robber who is 

neadman of the village of . He and his son 

ill-treat the people shamelessly. At ploughing time 
he continually encroaches upon his neighbours' lands, 
and if they question him on the matter his mouth 
pours forth a torrent of evil words and he reviles 
them without ceasing. He says, ' 1 am the headman 
of this village and a person of importance. As for 
this trifling matter of your boundaries, I will treat you 
exactly as I please, for you are all my inferiors.' On 
other occasions he says, * My family is wealthy ; I 
have one hundred and thirty odd uiu of land. In 
my house 1 have silver heaped up like a mountain.' 
In our village there is a right-of-way to the well, 
which is situated on a slope at the edge of his land ; 
but he has forbidden us to use this path any longer. 
In our village there is also an old temple called the 
T'ai-p'ing An, and there is an ancient right-of-way 
to it for the use of people who wish to burn incense 


at the shrines. This path also he has blocked up. 
He declares that the spirits of the dead may use this 
road, but he will not allow living men to use it. 
Further, he says, ' If any one in the village refuses 
to obey me, let him beware ! 1 am headman and have 
great influence, and if I were to fall upon you it would 
be as though the sacred mountain of T'ai were to fall 
and crush you.' 

*' Sometimes, also, he tells us that he will have us 
taken to the Magistrate's yamen for punishment. Thus 
we poor petitioners are afraid to put our names to 
this memorial. But we earnestly beg the Clear-as- 
Heaven Magistrate to enquire into this man's conduct 
and have him severely punished. Degrade him from 
the position of headman ; lock him up in gaol for 
several years ; inflict a fine of several thousand dollars 
upon him — he has plenty of money in his house. 
Thus will the people be made happy at last, and 
your petitioners gratitude will endure through all 
ages to come. We implore the Clear-as-Heaven 
venerable Magistrate quickly to make investigations 
and to inflict punishment, and thus save the people 
and release them from their woes. Then not only 
through Weihaiwei will his fame roll like thunder, 
but the people who live in Chinese territory will all 
come to know how god-like are his judgments, and his 
reputation will shine with the combined brilliance of 
sun, moon and stars." 

The magistrate is supposed to be a kind of living 
embodiment of all the Confucian virtues, and therefore 
to look with extreme favour on any one whose words 
or conduct show him to be dutiful to his father, 
punctilious in serving the spirits of the dead, respect- 
ful to old age, a wise and good parent, industrious, 
honest in his dealings with his neighbours, and law- 
abiding. No litigant neglects an opportunity of show- 
ing that he possesses each and all of these qualities; 
and sometimes it is done cleverly and with an appear- 
ance of artlessness. A man brought an action against 
another for debt. In the course of his statement he 
said : " Whenever I demand the money from him he 


reviles me. (Cross-examined). I never reviled him 
in return. I didn't dare to do so because he had a 
beard and I had none. How could I dare to revile 
a man with a beard? " This of course means in plain 
language, " He was my elder, and therefore I with my 
well-known regard for the proprieties could not pre- 
sume to answer him back." It is not usual in China 
for a man to grow a beard or moustache until he has 
reached middle age. 

A litigant also tries to ingratiate himself with the 
magistrate by an affectation of extreme humility. A 
villager is asked if he can write. He says no. When 
it is subsequently discovered that he can read and 
write with fluency and he is taxed with his falsehood, 
he merely explains that he did not dare to boast of 
his accomplishments in the presence of the magistrate. 
The meaning is that the magistrate's scholarly attain- 
ments are (theoreticall}^ so overwhelmingly brilliant 
that the litigant's own poor scraps of learning sink 
into utter nothingness by comparison. In other words, 
it is politeness and humility that impel the man to say 
he cannot write. 

Among the cases that cause the greatest difficulty 
and sometimes embarrassment to an English magistrate 
are those that turn on some foolish old custom or 
deeply-rooted superstition. Sometimes it happens 
that by deciding the case one way the magistrate may 
be upholding a popular view at the cost of doing 
violence to his own feelings of what is right and 
proper; by deciding it in another way he may pro- 
voke a strong local feeling of resentment against the 
ignorant judgments of foreigners who do not under- 
stand the ways of the people. As a rule it is best 
to ascertain the views of the oldest and most respect- 
able members of the village or district concerned, and 
give judgment accordingly. It is interesting to observe 
that the old folks v/ill not in all cases give their vote 
for the pro-superstition view. A lawsuit of the kind 
referred to arose recently out of a dispute in a village 


as to the digging of a well. The plaintiffs petition 
ran as follows : 

** Near our village there is a well which supplies 
good water. As it was a long way to this well from 
the further end of the village it was decided some years 
ago to sink a new well opposite the house of Wang 
Lien-tseng. This was done, and unfortunately soon 
afterwards a man was drowned in the new well. Then 
the elders discussed the matter and agreed that as the 
spot was evidently an unpropitious one for a well it 
must be abandoned. A new well was sunk near my 
house. Soon after this well was opened for public 
use my eldest boy took ill. He spat blood for seven 
months and then died. This was not the only piece 
of bad luck that befell me : I got into trouble somehow 
and was sent to gaol. This second well was then also 
filled up and abandoned. No more well-boring was 
undertaken for a long time, but recently there has 
been a fresh agitation among some of the villagers 
who say they must have a second well. I and the best 
people in the village think matters had much better 
be left as they are, as well-boring has been proved to 
be highly dangerous in our village. Wang Ming-hu 
is the principal agitator, and he declares that the well 
which started my misfortunes may be safely reopened, 
as three years have passed since the last time it caused 

In this case the agitator — perhaps a trifle less super- 
stitious than his neighbours — got his way, and the 
results do not seem to have caused any rise in the 
local death-rate. 

No one who has lived in China requires to be re- 
minded of the strange pseudo-science of feng-slnd, 
which includes among its various branches and sub- 
divisions a method of divination whereby lucky sites 
are chosen for buildings of all kinds and especially 
for graves. A master-in-feng-shui, as one might 
render the term fcng-shid hsien-sheug, is one who 
gives his services, not gratuitously, to persons who 
wish to find a propitious spot for the erection of 

f£:ng-shui 119 

a new dwelling-house or (as in the case just quoted) 
the boring of a well or the burial of a deceased relative. 
The richer and more patient the client, the longer, 
as a rule, will the /isieji-sheiig take to complete his 
calculations, and the larger will be his fee. 

A very important point to remember with regard 
to the selection of lucky sites for graves is that the 
solicitude is not only for the deceased but for the 
present generation and its descendants as well.' A 
carefully-selected burial-ground brings, it is believed, 
peace to the ancestors down in the Yellow Springs 
of the Underworld and also ensures an endless pro- 
geny of descendants who will enjoy wealth, distinction 
and longevity. The two words ferig-shtn mean nothing 
more than " wind and water," but their esoteric conno- 
tation, if we were to do it justice, could hardly be 
elucidated in a whole chapter. Feng-shui that was 
originally good may be ruined through a change in 
the course of a river, the erection of new buildings 
in the immediate neighbourhood, the opening-up ol 
virgin soil, and through an endless variety of other 

The well-known Chinese dragon often pla3^s a con- 
spicuous part in matters relating to feng-shui. To 
the true believer, indeed, the hills and rocks are not 
dead things, but animated with a mysterious kind of 
life which is apart from and yet has strange influences 
over the lives of men. Threatened disturbances of 
feng-shui have frequently been the real or pretended 
cause of Chinese opposition to the opening of mines 
and the building of railways : and the popular feelings 
in the matter are so strong (though they are gradually 
weakening) that the official classes are obliged to treat 
the superstition with an outward respect which it is 
fair to say is on their part generally simulated. Yet 
it is by no means ignored by the highest in the land : 
the tombs of the Chinese imperial family are always 
selected after a most careful scrutiny of the spots 

' See below, pp. 264 scg. 


favoured by the best feng-shui. The case to which 
I am about to allude arose out of a quarrel concerning 
the proposed opening of a stone-quarry in the vicinity 
of an ancestral graveyard. The dialogue that took 
place in court proceeded somewhat as follows, though 
the speeches are much abbreviated. 

Plaintiffs. — We object to the quarry. The land is 
defendants' own and we do not claim any rights over 
it, but it is close to our ancestors' graves, and is 
certain to injure the feng-shui. We should not object 
to a quarry on the far side of the hill, which cannot 
be seen from the graveyard. Our ancestors left word 
that if a quarry were opened on the far side it would 
not matter. Why don't the defendants go to that 

Defendants. — The land belongs to us and our deeds 
are in order. We assert that plaintiffs have no right 
to interfere with our quarry, and we do not see how 
the feng-shui of their graves can be affected. We 
don't go to the other side of the hill because there is 
no stone there. 

Plaintiffs. — There is a dragon in the hill and it lives 
under the graveyard, and it extends to the place where 
the defendants have wickedly started to quarry. If 
the hill is cut into, the dragon will be hurt. 

The Magistrate.~\ do not think the dragon would 
raise any objections to the quarry. In fact he would 
no doubt feel much more comfortable if the stone 
were moved away. He probably finds it very heavy. 
In that case your feng-shui would be immensely im- 
proved by the opening of the quarry. 

Plaintiffs (ivitli perhaps the least suspicion of scorn at 
the foreign magistrate's ignorance). — The stones in the 
quarry are the dragon's bones. 

Hardly less important than the choice of a well- 
situated grave is the ante-niorteni provision for a 
becoming funeral. It is well known that among the 
poorest classes the most acceptable present a dutiful 
son can give his father is a handsome coffin ; and it is 
a real satisfaction to a humble labourer or farmer to 


know that, however poor he and his family may be, 
there will be no doubt about his being laid to rest in a 
thoroughly respectable manner. The coffin — a large 
and most cumbersome article — is sometimes deposited 
during the owner's lifetime in a Buddhist temple, but 
this costs money; so it is frequently allowed to occupy 
an honourable corner in the family living-room, where 
it becomes the pride of the household and the envy 
of less fortunate neighbours. The presentation of a 
coffin to the head of a family by his dutiful and affec- 
tionate sons is sometimes made the occasion of an 
"At Home," to which are invited all relatives and 
friends who live in the neighbourhood. The visitors 
are expected to congratulate the proud father on his 
new piece of furniture and on his good fortune in 
possessing exemplary sons, to express unbounded 
admiration for the coffin, and to compliment the sons 
on the filial devotion of which they have just given 
so admirable a proof. 

In Weihaiwei, litigation arising directly or indirectly 
out of disputes concerning coffins is fairly common, 
owing to the fact that timber is scarce and good 
coffins correspondingly expensive. The rights of 
ownership over a single tree or a group of trees are 
for this reason hotly contested, though the intention 
of using the timber for coffin-making is not always 
mentioned in the pleadings. One T'sung P'ei-yu 
made his complaint thus : " I was one of three sons. 
When the family property was divided between the 
three of us by our father's instructions, my eldest 
brother was given the house in which we had been 
brought up. But in the garden there was a fir-tree, 
and our father, before he died, specially declared that 
this tree was to be regarded as mine, in order that I 
might make myself a coffin out of it. The village 
headman can bear witness to this, and all the neigh- 
bours know that what 1 say is true. This happened 
seven years ago, and no one contested my claim to 
the tree until the tenth day of this moon, when I went 


to the garden to cut it down. To my surprise I was 
stopped by my elder brother's wife, Ts'ung Liu Shih, 
who refused to let me touch it. I am a man of peace 
and dared not take the law into my own hands, so I 
appeal to the court for help." The end of the case was 
that some of the neighbours— doubtless sympathising 
with the plaintiff in his laudable and natural longing 
for a good coffin — offered to " talk peace," and there 
was an amicable settlement out of court. The plaintiff 
got his tree but had to spend the amount that a good 
coffin would have cost in entertaining his genial 
neighbours at a feast. What became of the elder 
brother's wife did not transpire. 

From coffins to ancestral worship the transition is 
easy. Very numerous cases might be cited in which 
the magistrate is called upon to decide subtle questions 
— such as could seldom arise outside China— connected 
with adoption, inheritance, the guardianship of lands 
devoted to sacrificial purposes, and the custody of 
ancestral tablets. During a journey in western China 
I had some conversation with a missionary on this 
and allied topics. When I mentioned that the an- 
cestral tablets were frequently produced in court as 
part of the evidence in a lawsuit and sometimes re- 
mained in the magistrate's custody for several days, 
the missionary remarked that he presumed I took 
advantage of such occasions to talk seriously to the 
" heathen " on the wickedness and folly of " idolatry." 
The fact that the people of Weihaiwei are still in the 
habit of appealing to the British courts for judgments 
in cases of this kind, is sufficient to show that the 
missionary's assumption was incorrect. 

The Chinese magistrate being in theory the father 
of his district, he must not merely hold the balance 
between his people when they come to him with their 
quarrels ; he must not merely punish the offender and 
vindicate the cause of the oppressed : he must also 
instil into the minds of his " children," by word and 
example, a submissive reverence for the doctrines of 


the ancient sages, which include proper respect for 
tradition, a dutiful obedience to all properly-con- 
stituted authority, whether in family or in State, and 
the practice of courtesy and forbearance in all dealings 
with neighbours and strangers. Some of the most 
valuable of the Confucian maxims are summed up in 
the " Sacred Edict," which, though it only dates from 
the time of K'ang Hsi (seventeenth century), is entirely 
based on the Confucian teachings and is very well 
known — by name if not by its contents — to the vast 
majority of the Chinese people. Whether Chinese 
magistrates always fulfil their functions either as 
models or as teachers of virtue is a matter which does 
not concern us. 

In Weihaiwei, where the King's Order-in-Council 
justifies a magistrate in giving effect to Chinese cus- 
toms and practices, I have frequently, in delivering 
judgments in both civil and criminal cases, used 
appropriate texts taken either from the Confucian 
classics themselves or from the Sacred Edict, for the 
purpose of giving my hearers little moral discourses 
on points suggested by the cases before me. If, for 
example, two neighbours have quarrelled over some 
trifling matter I tell them of the wise words used by 
K'ang Hsi and his commentators with reference to 
the observance of harmonious relations among people 
who inhabit the same village. I remind them, 
perhaps, that " if fellow-villagers quarrel with one 
another and neither is willing to forgive, then the 
result will be a state of enmity which may not only 
last all their own lives, but may embitter the lives of 
their sons and grandsons, and even then peace may 
not ensue." 

On one occasion on which I had quoted a passage 
from the Sacred Edict a local missionary pointed out 
to me that I could have found a far more appropriate 
text for my purpose by turning to a certain passage 
in the Bible to which he referred me. He was very 
probably quite right, though I did not verify his 


Biblical reference : but it would no more occur to me, 
in addressing a crowd of Chinese from the magisterial 
bench in Weihaiwei, to read them passages from the 
Bible than it would occur to a judge in England to 
entertain the jury or the prisoner at the bar with 
quotations from the Zend Avesta or the Institutes 
of Vishnu. Is it not probable that an ordinary 
Chinese peasant will think more of his magistrate's 
ethical views and be more likely to profit by them 
if the magistrate bases his discourses on teachings 
which the Chinese and his ancestors have always 
been taught to hold sacred, rather than on strange- 
sounding quotations from a book he has never 
heard of? 

From the examples given of some of the questions 
that come up for decision in the courts of Weihaiwei 
it may be seen that in this outlying part of the British 
Empire, no less than in India and the rest of our 
Asiatic possessions, the chief qualifications necessary 
for a judge or magistrate are not so much a knowledge 
of law and legal procedure as a ready acquaintance 
with the language, customs, religious ideas and 
ordinary mode of life of the people and an ability to 
sympathise with or at least to understand their pre- 
judices and points of view. Perhaps no Englishman, 
no European or American, can hope to administer 
justice or exercise executive functions among Asiatics 
in a manner that will win universal approval. If he 
becomes too fond of the natives he runs the risk of 
becoming de-occidentalised. Morally and intellectually 
he becomes a Eurasian. He is distrusted by his own 
countrymen, he is not respected — perhaps regarded 
as rather a bore — by the natives over whom he is 
placed. But let the European who applies to another 
the epithet of " pro-native " enquire rigorously of him- 
self whether his real ground of complaint is not this : 
that the person whom he criticises does not in all 
cases support the European against the Asiatic when 
the interests of the two are at variance, that he does 


not necessarily accept the European point of view as 
the only possible or the only just one. 

" How is it that you Government officials, as soon 
as you have learned the language and studied the 
customs of the country, become either mad or hope- 
lessly pro-Chinese?" This is a question which in 
one form or another is frequently asked by unofficial 
European residents in China. It may be that there 
is something in the nature of Chinese studies that 
makes men mad, and indeed I have heard this soberly 
maintained by persons who themselves are careful to 
avoid all risk of contagion. But it never seems to 
occur to such questioners that there may be some 
solid reasons for the apparently pro-Chinese ten- 
dencies (they are generally only apparent) of their 
official friends : reasons based on the fad that the 
latter have discovered — perhaps much to their own 
astonishment — how much there is truly admirable and 
worthy of preservation not only in Chinese art and 
literature and even religion, but also in the social 
organisation of the Chinese people. If there is one 
statement about China that can be made with perfect 
assurance it is this : that if in the long process of 
reform she learns to despise and throw aside all the 
supports she has leaned upon for thousands of years, 
if she exchanges for Western substitutes all her ideals, 
her philosophy of life, her ethics, her social system, 
she may indeed become rich, progressive, powerful 
in peace and war, perhaps a terror to the nations, but 
she will have left behind her very much that was good 
and great, she will have parted with much that was 
essential to her happiness and even to her self-respect, 
she will be a stranger to herself. And what will be 
the outward aspect of the China of those days? 
Great industrial cities there may be ; harbours thronged 
with ocean-liners and with great battleships flying 
the Dragon flag ; miles of factories, barracks, arsenals 
and shipping-yards ; railway trains, motor-cars and 
airships coming and going incessantly from province 


to province ; warehouses, banks and stock-exchanges 
full of myriads of buyers and sellers, each straining 
every nerve to excel his neighbour in the race for 
wealth. And where, in this picture of China's possible 
future, are the thousands of ancestral temples where 
to-day the members of every family meet to do homage 
to their honoured dead and to renew the bonds of 
kinship one with another ? They are to be seen no 
more. In their place stand thousands of village 



To enter into a detailed description of Chinese village 
life would take us far astray from the immediate 
purpose of this book, which is to place before the 
reader a picture of Weihaiwei and the manners and 
customs of its people. Many such manners and 
customs are indeed common to the whole Empire, 
and in describing them we describe China ; others 
are, or may be, peculiar to eastern Shantung or to 
the districts in proximity to the Promontory. Indeed, 
the student of sociological conditions in various parts 
of Asia will perhaps observe how much there is in 
common, with respect to village organisation, between 
the people of Weihaiwei and those — for example — of 
many parts of the Indian Empire. Far apart as the 
races concerned are in origin, traditions, and geographi- 
cal and climatic conditions, it is yet a fact that the 
village communities of Weihaiwei at the present day 
are, in some important respects, identical in structure 
with those of Burma, especially of Upper Burma as 
it was before the annexation to the British Empire. 

In outward appearance, it must be confessed, a 
Weihaiwei village is a poor thing compared with 
a village on the banks of the Irrawaddy. At close 
quarters it is often offensive both to the eye and to 
the nostrils — for the peasantry of China are not a 
cleanly people. Seen from a distance, the village that 



gives the greatest pleasure to a European observer 
is the village that is almost entirely hidden in a grove 
of trees. Not infrequently the villages have an almost 
north-country English appearance. The houses are 
built of roughly-hewn grey stone, of which there is 
abundance in the hills ; the roofs are usually of thatch, 
though the temples and some of the better-class 
dwelling-houses are roofed with bluish-grey tiles. 
All buildings — even temples — have very plain ex- 
teriors, and were evidently constructed for use and 
not for outward show. There are no pagodas, and 
not much, except a few twisted gables, that reminds 
one of southern China. Apart from an occasional 
Chinese inscription cut on a block of stone (such as 
" May a lucky star look down on us ") or a crude 
representation of the well-known figure of the Yin 
and Yang (according to Chinese philosophy the com- 
plementary forces and qualities of nature),^ there is 
little to suggest Oriental surroundings. In the larger 
villages may be seen theatrical pavilions in front of 
some of the local temples, and these pavilions are 
often the most elaborate buildings, as regards 
architectural structure and ornament, in their re- 
spective neighbourhoods. 

The Weihaiwei Territory contains, as already 
stated, about three hundred and fifteen villages and 
hamlets. Estimating the total area of the Territory 
at three hundred square miles, and allowing for a 
large hill-area of uncultivated barren land, we find 
that there are probably about three villages, on an 
average, to every two square miles of territory. No 
census has yet been taken, but the population was 
long ago estimated by the military authorities (when 
they surveyed the territory) at 500 to the square 
mile, which would give a total of close on 150,000. 
I am inclined to think this estimate was too high 
at the time it was made, though the present population, 
which has been steadily increasing during the last 

' See pp. 262 seg. 










decade, may not be far from that figure. Continuing 
this rough estimate, it may be said that the North 
Division ^ of the Territory contains 100 square miles 
with 84 villages, and a population of 50,000 ; the 
South Division 200 square miles with 231 villages and 
a population of 100,000. There are no walled towns 
or villages with the exception of the so-called city of 
Weihaiwei, which is nominally under Chinese juris- 
diction. There are six market centres, all of which 
are situated in the South Division with the exception 
of the first named : they are Weihaiwei city, Feng-lin, 
Ku-shan-hou, Ch'iao-t'ou, Ts'ao-miao-tzu and Yang- 
t'ing. Market is held at each of these places on every 
fifth day. 

All these markets are of old standing with the 
exception of that of Ku-shan-hou, which was estab- 
lished, or rather revived, in 1907. The most important 
of the markets are those at Weihaiwei, Ch'iao-t'ou, 
and Yang-t'ing. The merchandise sold includes all 
kinds of agricultural produce in addition to material 
for clothing, cooking utensils, and other household 
gear. Foreign cloth and fancy goods of a cheap kind 
have a small sale. Beasts of burden are bought and 
sold as occasion demands, but it is at the great annual 
fairs that they change hands in largest numbers. 
These fairs were originally held in connection with 
religious festivals, and, indeed, they are still semi- 
religious in character. Men and women, especially 
the latter, flock to the temples, which at other seasons 
are rarely visited, and burn incense before the image 
of their favourite saint or deity ; religious processions 
are held — a great source of delight to the children, 
who are given an opportunity of " dressing up "; and 
thousands of fire-crackers are exploded in the temple 
courtyards. But it is the business aspect of the fairs 
that appeals most strongly to the male adults who 
attend them, for it is on these occasions that they hope 
to drive the best bargains in the buying and selling of 

^ See pp. 97-8. 


oxen, mules, ponies, donkeys and pigs. A fair or 
hiii^ is held annually at most of the market centres 
and at a few other places. One of the largest is held 
every spring at T'ang-ho-hsi, close to the District 
Officer's headquarters, and another at Pei-k'ou, where 
there is a temple in a picturesque defile. Theatrical 
performances are always held on such occasions, in 
fact they constitute part of the religious element of 
the hiti. Though the performances are secular in 
character thc}^ are known as s/ien hsi, which might be 
translated " divine " or " religious drama." 

The drama (such as it is) provides the most popular 
of all forms of amusement among the agricultural 
classes. The actors are professionals, who wander 
from place to place seeking engagements. Contracts 
are drawn up by middlemen called Jisieli-hsi-ti, and 
contain a concise statement of how many days the 
performances are to be given (generally three or 
four), how many actors are to take part in them, and 
what the payment is to be. The actors carry with 
them their own garments, false beards, masks and 
other " properties," while the stage is supplied by the 
village. The stone-built theatrical pavilions usually 
face northwards, towards the gateway of the temple 
with which they are connected. Temples, and the 
images in them, face the south : thus the gods, for 
whose benefit and in whose honour the plays are 
theoretically given, have a full view of the entertain- 
ment. The spectators stand between the temple and i 
the stage. The performances (usually consisting of 
short separate plays) take place at intervals through- 
out the whole of each day. 

There is very little originality in the plots of the 
pieces presented ; they are all taken from or founded 
on well-known Chinese legendary episodes or on 
events described in famous historical novels. If this 
were not the case, the dramatic methods in vogue in 

' The word may be translated as "a coming together." It is the 
usual word lor a "society" or "club." 









agricultural China would have to be modified ; for the 
dialogue cannot under present conditions be heard 
distinctly except by a limited number of the audience. 
Not to mention the gongs and cymbals of the 
orchestra, which frequently come into action at what 
appears to foreigners to be the wrong moment, the 
open air soon dissipates the players' voices, and the 
great body of spectators (" audience " is hardly an 
appropriate word) is apt to be somewhat restless, if 
not noisy. Female parts are generally taken by 
specially trained boys or young men, though actresses 
are no longer unknown in China. The acting is rarely 
good from a European point of view ; on the contrary, 
it is very stiff and full of what seem to us ridiculous 
mannerisms. But it is unfair to judge of the histrionic 
art of China from what one sees at a country fair. 

The frequent association of the drama with religion 
in China will naturally recall to the minds of students 
of English literature the miracle-plays and mysteries 
of the Middle Ages in Europe. But the analogy is 
not a very close one. The English drama, regarded 
historically, may be said to be English through and 
through. The changes it underwent were almost, if 
not quite, independent of the history of the drama on 
the Continent. The evolution of the drama can be 
traced step by step from its origin to its culmination 
in the hands of the great Elizabethans. In China the 
origin of the drama is doubtful ; it is not (in its 
present or any similar form) of great antiquity, and 
dramatic writing has never taken rank as a very high 
form of art. Some of the elements of drama may 
probably be traced in the stately gesture-dances, com- 
bined with music, of which we read in some of the 
oldest Chinese books. Dances which are probably 
very similar to those performed at the courts of the 
ruling dukes in Confucius's time may be witnessed at 
the present day in parts of Further India. In the old 
Indo-Chinese capital of Vientian on the Mekong (now 
the capital of French Laos) I witnessed, in 1902, a 


dance of this kind. By a stretch of the imagination 
it might have been styled a drama in dumb show, 
but with more dumb show than drama : a dance that 
aimed at expressing not so much the poetry of 
graceful movement as the poetry of successive states 
of more or less dignified repose. 

The Chinese drama of to-day is still a drama of 
posturing and gesture : the player is for ever aiming 
at " striking an attitude." This is all the more re- 
markable among a people who in ordinary life consider 
gesture undignified and indicative of a lack of self- 
control. It can, I think, be explained only as a 
survival from the days when the Chinese drama 
consisted mainly of dance and music. The literary 
developments of the drama— if indeed they may 
correctly be described as developments — date only 
from the time of the Yiian d3'nasty (i 280-1 367), and 
the popularity of the drama among the people seems 
to have been only of gradual growth since that date. 
It was apparently an importation from Central Asia, 
and came to China with the Mongol conquerors. 
For some time this novel form of art was confined to 
Peking and the other great centres of Mongol power, 
and to this day the influence of Peking is shown in 
the very frequent employment of the Peking dialect 
even in provinces where that form of speech is un- 
intelligible to the mass of the people. 

A theatrical company may be engaged by any ! 
person or group of persons willing to pay the required 
expenses. A theatrical entertainment is not therefore ji 
necessarily connected with religion, though in Wei- 
haiwei it is generally so— at least in name. Occa- 
sionally a villager who has acquired wealth in j, 
Manchuria or elsewhere makes a bid for local popu- 
larity by paying the whole expenses out of his own 
pocket ; but as a rule the cost is met out of the 
common purse. This leads us to a consideration of 
the internal polity and fiscal arrangements of a Wei- 
haiwei village, which must be clearly understood in ji 


their main outlines if we are to arrive at any adequate 
conception of the manner in which the peasants of this 
district, as of nearl}^ the whole of China, regulate their 
lives and allocate their rights and responsibilities. 

Certainly the main interest of the Territory, espe- 
cially for those interested in sociological questions, 
lies in the quiet and apparently humdrum life of the 
village communities. As that life is now, so it has 
been for unnumbered centuries. There is no manorial 
system, no " villeinage," no landlordism, no rack- 
renting. The people of Weihaiwei are practically a 
population of peasant proprietors, though proprietor- 
ship is vested rather in the family (using the word in 
an extended sense) than in the individual. Villages 
still bear, in very many cases, the name of the family 
that lived in them as far back as their history can 
be traced. Chang-chia-shan is the Hill of the Chang 
family; Wang-chia-k'uang is the Defile of the Wang 
family ; Chiang-chia-k'ou is the Pass of the Chiang 
family ; Yii-chia-chuang is the village of the Yii family. 

There is an old story of a weary traveller in Scot- 
land who, having arrived at a certain country town 
in the Border district late at night, and finding closed 
doors everywhere, called out, "Are there no Chris- 
tians in this town ? " — whereat an old woman 
popped her head out of an upper window and replied, 
"Nae, nae, we're a' Johnstones and Jardines here." 
The Scottish town at least had its two surnames ; 
more often than not a Weihaiwei village has only 
one. There may be Chinese Johnstones or Chinese 
Jardines ; but it is improbable that they will be found 
together in the same village in such an old-fashioned 
district as Weihaiwei. This is not, of course, uni- 
versally the case. When a clan is starved out of 
existence or has emigrated in a body, or, owing to its 
paucity of numbers, has admitted immigrants, the 
village may gradually become the property of several 
unrelated families. It is then known as a tsa ftsinp- 
village, or village of miscellaneous surnames. Its old 


name may or may not be perpetuated. Meng-chia- 
chuang, which ought to be the village of the Meng 
famil}^, is now the property of a well-to-do family or 
clan named Liang, and the Mengs have disappeared. 

As a rule we find in Weihaiwei either that each 
village is exclusively inhabited by the people of one 
name, who are all inter-related and address each 
other as brothers and uncles and nephews, or that 
one "surname" is in numbers, wealth and social 
influence greatly predominant over the others. Title- 
deeds and tombstones testify to the antiquity of many 
of the existing Weihaiwei families; many of the 
peasant-proprietors who share the land among them 
to-day are the direct or collateral descendants of the 
people who tilled the same fields in the da3^s of the 
Sung, Yiian and Ming d3^nasties. 

There are considerable numbers, however, whose 
ancestors were immigrants from other parts of China ; 
some of these were military colonists, some were 
transferred by Government from other provinces as 
a result of political or social troubles connected with 
rebellions or famines. There are many well-known 
residents who themselves have never travelled beyond 
the boundaries of the Wen-teng and Jung-ch'eng 
districts, but who are well aware, from their carefully- 
preserved pedigree-scrolls, that their ancestors were 
brought hither by Government hundreds of years 
ago from provinces as far distant as Yunnan. The 
Roman Emperors, we know, frequently adopted a 
similar method of dealing with certain political exi- 
gencies, for they transferred whole bodies of people 
from one province of the Empire to another ; but the 
fate of the transferred Chinese was better than that j 
of many of the Roman provincials, for they retained 
their independence and did not become the serfs of 
overlords. j 

A typical village of Weihaiwei may be defined as 
consisting of a group of families all bearing the same 
surname and all tracing their descent from a single 


ancestor or a single ancestral stock, each family in 
the group constituting a semi-independent unit, 
owning its own lands, possessing certain rights over 
a common tract of pasture-land and sharing in the 
rights and responsibilities connected with the upkeep 
of the Ancestral Temple^ and its tablets,^ the family 
burial-ground,^ and any land or property that may 
have been specially set apart to provide for the 
expenses of religious ceremonies and sacrifices.* The 
more mixed a village becomes, that is, the greater the 
number of " surnames " that it contains, the more 
widely does it depart from the uniformity implied by 
this description. There ma}^, for example, be several 
ancestral temples, several burial-grounds, many dif- 
ferent patches of sacrificial land ; though if the 
immigrants came from a village in the vicinity, and 
have left there the main body of their clan, it some- 
times happens that they will still associate themselves 
with the parent-village rather than with that in which 
they live, and will therefore refrain from establishing 
new centres of ancestral worship. 

The units of the village community are not indi- 
viduals but families. Nothing is more important for 
an understanding of the wonderfully stable and long- 
lived social system of China than this fact : that the 
social and the political unit are one and the same, 
and that this unit is not the individual but the family.' 

' Chta miao. ' Shcn chit. ' Huo Ying-ti. * Cht-t'ien. 

* As an indication of how widely sundered are the theory and 
practice of East and West in the matter of social organisation, D. G. 
Ritchie's Natural. Rights (1903 ed.), pp. 259-60, may be consulted. 
" No real or positive equality in social conditions,'' says that writer, 
"can be secured so long as individuals are looked at in any respect 
as members of families, and not in every respect as members of the 
State alone.'' Yet in China, where individuals are in almost every 
respect regarded as members of families, and never dream of claiming 
to be members of the State alone, there is far greater equality in social 
conditions than there is in the individualistic States of the West! Let 
us hope for China's sake that this fact will not be overlooked by 
those young patriot-reformers who are casting about for ways and 
means of raising their country in the scale of nations. 


It is well known that this family-system exists, or till 
recently existed, in nearly every Asiatic country; and 
that only within the present generation the advance 
of European influence and legal notions has in some 
parts of the Continent brought about a gradual ten- 
dency to Western individualism,' 

But the European must not too hastily assume, 
when he sees individualism largely replacing the old 
family-system in such countries as Japan, that the 
wiser heads in those countries regard the change as 
being in all respects beneficial. Some of them are 
inclined to fear that the new system — though its 
adoption may possibly be necessary in order to 
supply their country with a certain brute strength 
which the old system lacked, and so to enable it to 
cope with European aggression — tends to the grievous 
injury of much that they believe to be essential to true 
civilisation. They do not welcome with enthusiasm 
the emergence above the social and political horizon 
of that strange new star — the self-contained individual. 
They contemplate with something like dismay the 
weakening or breaking of the old family bonds, which 
if they were sometimes a hindrance to personal ad- 

• The family-system has of course existed in regions other than 
Asia. " In most of the Greek states and in Rome," says Sir Henry 
Maine {^Ancintt Law, 4th ed., p. 128), "there long remained the vestiges 
of an ascending series of groups out of which the State was at first 
constituted. . . . The elementary group is the Family, connected by 
common subjection to the highest male ascendant. The aggregation 
of Families forms the Gens or House. The aggregation of Houses 
makes the Tribe. The aggregation of Tribes constitutes the common- 
wealth." In another place (p. 126) lie speaks of "the clearest indi- 
cations that society in primitive times was not what it is assumed to 
be at present, a collection of individuals. In fact, and in the view 
of the men who composed it, it was an aggregation of families. The 
contrast may be most forcibly expressed by saying that the unit of 
an ancient society was the Family, of a modern society the individual." 
Had Maine been acquainted with the details of the social organisation 
of the Chinese he would have found a copious source from which to 
draw illustrations of his thesis, and would have perceived that the 
family-unit system is not yet to be spoken of as a vanished phase of 
social development. 


vancement and had a cramping influence on the 
individual Hfe, at least did much to keep within 
bounds the primitive instincts of selfishness and 

Even in Europe there are thinkers who have ex- 
pressed doubts as to whether our Western individ- 
ualism is not a terribly fragile and unstable foundation 
on which to build a vast social system ; whether there 
are not already signs of decay in the very bases of 
our civilisation. The truth of the matter is that there 
are certain profound social problems which have 
never yet been solved either by the East or by the 
West. We are all yet in various experimental stages 
of social progress. It may be that if Western theories 
and ideals have soared to greater heights, Eastern 
theories and ideals have aimed at producing a greater 
fundamental solidity;* and that, the essential differ- 
ences being so great, it is inadvisable for either 
hemisphere to press its ideals too persistently on the 
other, and dangerous for either to abandon its own 
ideals too hastily in deference to the other's teaching 
or example. 

Most people have heard a great deal of the high 
standard of commercial honour that prevails among 
the Chinese. Testimony to this characteristic has 
been given so often by English merchants and others 
that it seems unnecessary to insist upon it. I will 
only say, in passing, that nearly all business transac- 

' "The whole Chinese administrative system is based on the doctrine 
of filial piety, in its most extended signification of duty to natural 
parents and also to political parents, as the Emperors magistrates are 
to this day familiarly called. China is thus one vast republic of in- 
numerable private families, or petty iviperia, within one public family, 
or general imperium ; the organisation consists of a number of self- 
producing and ever-multiplying independent cells, each maintaining a 
complete administrative existence apart from the central power. Doubt- 
less, it is this fact which in a large measure accounts for China's 
indestructibility in the face of so many conquests and revolutions." — 
Prof. E. H. Parker in iht Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society {China 
Branch), vol. xl. (1909), p. 14. 


tions between Chinese and Chinese, even those in- 
volving considerable sums of money, are in Weihaiwei 
still carried out by word of mouth. The point to be 
emphasised here is that the commercial honesty of 
the Chinese is to a great extent dependent on and the 
result of their theory of the relationship between the 
individual and the family, v/hich theory is in turn 
based on the social doctrines (such as filial piety) 
which Confucius taught or sanctioned. 

The Western individual who owes money and cannot 
or will not pay can always shoot himself or abscond 
or go bankrupt. He may leave a stigma on his family 
if it is known who his family are, but the debts were 
his own and his relations cannot be held responsible. 
But the identification of the interests and obligations 
of an individual with those of his family have in agri- 
cultural China this peculiar and socially beneficial 
result, that a man cannot dissolve his liabilities by 
such a simple process as going bankrupt or dying.' 
His rights are inherited by his sons : so are his liabili- 
ties. The law, it is true, limits a man's liability for an 
ancestor's debts to the extent of his own inheritance : 
but the rule of custom is sterner than the rule of law. 
In 1907 a man whom we will call Ku brought me a 
petition in which he stated that in the seventh year 
of Chia Ch'ing (one hundred and five years earlier) 
an ancestor of his had contracted a debt of three tiao 
(a sum which at the present day is worth five or six 

' It must be understood that what is referred to is "custom" rather 
than law, and that these remarks are not always applicable to the 
business relations between Chinese and foreigners at the treaty-ports, 
where commercial intercourse is to a great extent conducted on Western 
lines. When an English banker declares (as he has declared) that the 
word of a Chinese is as good as his bond, he is paying a compliment 
not so much to the character of the Chinese people (who as individuals 
are no more thoiigli perhaps no less trustworthy than average English- 
men), as to the fundamental soundness of the Chinese social system. 
If that system is subverted, through the efforts either of foreign advisers 
or of Chinese reformers, the moral results may be disastrous beyond 
conception. Let there be evolution by all means : not revolution. 


shillings) to a man Liu. Liu's descendant, rummaging 
among the family archives, had recently chanced to 
come across documentary evidence of this debt (the 
grimy little scrap of paper was produced in court) 
and he forthwith brought it to Ku, who had never 
heard of the transaction, with the suggestion that final 
settlement of this long-standing little bill was now 
eminently desirable. Principal and interest together 
then amounted to something like twenty times the 
original amount. 

The reason wh}^ Ku brought his case to my court 
was not that he objected to this unexpected call upon 
his slender purse, for as it happened he had already 
paid the whole amount without a murmur ; he merely 
came to suggest that as the original debtor had two 
direct living descendants besides himself, those two 
persons should be required to pay their fair shares 
of the ancestral debt. He wished to know the views 
of the court on the point before he demanded pay- 
ment from them. The man might in law have re- 
pudiated this debt altogether : Chinese law does not 
and could not go as far as local custom in settling 
questions that directly or indirectly concern the 
honour of a family. Repudiation of an ancestor's debt 
is, however, as rare in a Weihaiwei village as is bank- 
ruptcy. Debts may go unpaid, but only at the risk 
of a " loss of face" that would in most cases cause the 
debtor much greater inconvenience and discomfort 
than the monetary loss. 

Weihaiwei has as yet shown but little tendency to 
modif}^ its semi-patriarchal social system as a conse- 
quence of its fifteen years of continuous contact with 
Western civilisation. The individual is still sunk in 
the family. He cannot divest himself of the rights 
any more than of the responsibilities that belong to 
him through his family membership. The Weihaiwei 
farmer has indeed so limited a conception of his own 
existence as a separate and distinct personality that 
in ordinary speech he continually confuses himself 


with his ancestors or with living members of his 
family. Examples of this are of repeated occurrence 
in the law-courts. ** I bought this land and now the 
Tung family is trying to steal it from me," complains 
a petitioner. "When did you buy it?" asks the 
magistrate. "Two hundred years ago," promptly 
replies the oppressed one. Says another, " My rights 
to the property of Sung Lien-teng are being contested 
by my distant cousin. I am the rightful owner. I 
buried Sung Lien-teng and have charge of his soul- 
tablet and carry out the ancestral ceremonies." " When 
did Sung Lien-teng die ? " questions the magistrate. 
" In the fortieth year of K'ang Hsi " is the reply. 
This means that the deceased whose property is in 
dispute died childless in 1701, that plaintiffs ancestor 
in that year defra^'ed the funeral expenses and acted 
as chief mourner, that by family agreement he was 
installed as adopted son to the deceased and heir to 
his property, and that plaintiff claims to be the 
adopted son's descendant and heir. Looking upon 
his famil}', dead and alive, as one and indivisible, he 
could not see an}' practical difference between the 
statement that certain funeral rites had been carried 
out by himself and the statement that they had been 
carried out by a direct ancestor. 

Another litigant, whose long residence abroad had 
had no apparent effect on his general outlook on life, 
came to me very recently with the complaint that on 
his return from Manchuria he had found his land in 
the possession of a neighbour. " I went to Manchuria 
as my family had not enough to eat," he said. " I came 
home this year and wished to redeem the land I had 
mortgaged before I went away. But I found it had 
been already redeemed by my neighbour, a cousin, 
and he refuses to let me redeem it from him." On 
being asked when he had mortgaged his land and 
emigrated, he replied : " In Chia Ch'ing 3 " — that is, in 
1798. He was merely identifying himself with his 
own great-grandfather. 


In another case a man whom I will call A brought 
a plaint to the effect that he wished to adopt B, and 
that C for various reasons refused to allow this 
adoption to take place. On investigation it turns 
out that B is dead and that it is his infant son D 
whom A really wishes to adopt. B and D — father 
and son — seem to A merely different expressions, as 
it were, of the same entity. This does not mean, of 
course, that supposing B were still alive it would not 
matter whether B or D actually became A's adopted 
son. The rules of adoption in China are strictly 
regulated. A man cannot adopt any one he likes. 
Not to mention other necessary conditions, the person 
adopted must belong to the appropriate generation, 
that is, to the generation immediately junior to that 
of the adopter. In the case before us the infant D 
belonged to the proper generation, and his father 
B could not have been adopted. To our notions it 
seems all the stranger that A, knowing this, should 
have spoken of B when he meant D : yet this manner 
of speech is exceedingly common. 

But after all, if we wish to assure ourselves that the 
individual is not regarded as an independent unit we 
must rely on stronger evidence than strange verbal 
inaccuracies. Perhaps the best and most convincing 
proofs will be found in the restrictions placed on 
the powers of the individual to dispose of real 

It is necessary at the outset to lay stress on the 
fact that there is no evidence, so far as I am aware, 
of the former existence, in Weihaiwei or elsewhere 
in China, of agrarian communism. A village com- 
munity may indeed possess a common tract of pasture- 
land, or common pasture or " fuel " rights over private 
hill-lands at certain seasons of the 3'ear,' or some 
arable fields may under certain conditions be cultivated 
by different persons or different families in turn : but 

' As, for instance, after the silk worms have been taken off the scrub- 
oak buslies. 


if we were to assume from this tliat all arable land 
was once owned in common and that individual or 
family proprietorship has only gradually superseded 
an old communistic system, we should be entirely 
wrong. Students of the laws and customs relating to 
land must be careful, as Fustel de Coulanges has 
clearly warned them, ** not to confuse agrarian com- 
munism with family ownership, which may in time 
become village ownership without ceasing to be a 
real proprietorship." ' 

In China all land theoretically belongs to the 
Emperor and the land-tax paid by cultivators may 
be regarded, from one point of view, as rent payable 
by tenant to proprietor. The Emperor is the Son 
of Heaven (T'ien Tzu) and owns the whole Empire 
(literally ** v/hat is under Heaven " — T''icn Jisia) : a 
fortiori he is owner of every separate patch of tilled 
land that the Empire contains. But for the people 
of China the ultimate rights of the Emperor are a 
matter of legal theory only. In practice, land is 
privately owned in China just as it is privately owned 
in England ; but whereas in England a land-owner 
may (if his land is not " tied up ") exercise all the rights 
of absolute ownership quite regardless of the wishes 
of his nearest relations, not to mention his distant 
cousins, in China the individual land-owner cannot 
disregard the inextinguishable rights of his family.- 

Be it remembered, moreover, that " family " does not 
imply merely a father and a mother with their children. 
It includes also nephews, grand-nephews, cousins of 

' The Origin of Property in Land, transl. by M. Ashley, p. 151. 

* Perhaps it is hardly necessary to explain that a Chinese who cuts 
himself adrift from his family, or emigrates, or sets up in business in 
some distant town or in a foreign Settlement such as Shanghai, may 
and often does acquire real property under conditions that render him 
absolutely independent of his family or clan. The family-rights are 
not, indeed, extinguished : they are merely in abeyance owing to the 
difficulty or impossibility of enforcing them. Yet the theory of family- 
ownership is often — thanks to Chinese conservatism and clan-loyalty — 
fully recognised even in such cases as these. 


several degrees, and in fact all who come within the 
description of ton fn, or persons on whose decease 
one must assume one of the five degrees of "mourn- 
ing." In England, if a man's title-deeds are in order, 
and the land is free from encumbrances, no one will 
question his perfect right, as an independent individual, 
to sell his land how and to whom he chooses. It is 
unnecessary for him to consult relations, neighbours 
or friends. Now in Weihaiwei, which is a typical 
Chinese agricultural district, the man who tried to 
dispose of his landed property without fully discuss- 
ing the whole matter with all the prominent members 
and " elders " of his village — or rather with those 
among them who are of the same surname and come 
within the wu fit — would find himself foiled at the 
outset, for no one would venture to run the risk of 
buying land that was being offered for sale in so 
peculiar and irregular a manner. Even if the pur- 
chaser, being a man of wealth and influence, were 
prepared to run all possible risks, who would be 
found to draw up the deed of sale? Who would take 
the place of the numerous relatives who always 
append their signatures to such documents as proof 
that all is in order? The would-be seller's title-deeds 
may be in perfect order ; the land may have come 
down to him from his direct ancestors and his right 
to sell may be apparently incontestable. But he is 
not the less bound to satisfy his uncles and brothers 
and cousins, as well as his own sons, as to the reason 
for his desire to sell, and even if they agree that a 
sale is necessary (owing perhaps to the seller's debts) 
he is by no means permitted to dispose of the property 
by public auction or offer it to the highest bidder. 

All his relatives, more or less in the order of their 
seniority or proximity, must be given the option of 
purchase, and if the price offered by an influential 
relative is considered fair by the general voice of 
the village or the clan, he must perforce accept it 
and be thankful or refrain from selling his land. The 


theory that seems to lie at the root of this custom 
is not that the land is the common property of the 
clan but that the individual per se is only the limb 
of a body, and cannot therefore act except in accord- 
ance with the will of the organism to which he belongs ; 
and that it is contrary to the interests of the family 
that a portion of the real property belonging to any 
of its members should pass into alien hands. 

Absolute sales of land are, indeed, not regarded 
with favour even if conducted according to the 
•' rules." They have grown common in Weihaivvei 
during the past few years, partly because the great 
increase in the value of agricultural land has tempted 
many to take advantage of a condition of the real- 
estate market which they think may only be temporary; 
partly because foreign occupation and other recent 
events have opened out new avenues of employment 
to large numbers of the people who are willing, there- 
fore, to dispose of the little plots of land that are 
no longer their all-in-all ; partly because many of the 
smaller land-holders are engaging in commerce or 
emigrating to Chihli and to Manchuria. For these 
and other reasons a good deal of land has changed 
and is changing hands, but the old custom whereby 
real property can be transferred only from relative to 
relative is still observed with very slight if any relaxa- 
tion of its former strictness. 

A Chinese deed of sale, carefully examined, throws 
an interesting light on the systems of land-tenure and 
the conditions under which transfer is permissible. 
Without going into technical details, which would 
be of small interest to the general reader, attention 
may be drawn to the fact that the reason why the 
seller is disposing of his land must always be stated. 
The theory seems to be that he should not want 
to sell his land, and that his desire to do so is highly 
regrettable if not reprehensible. The document there- 
fore sets forth in detail that (for example) " Ch'i 
Te-jang of Ch'i-chia-chuang, being altogether without 


money or means of subsistence^ is obliged to sell that 
piece of land measuring . . . mn in extent, bounded 
as follows: . . . . , to his younger "brother" of the 
same generation [really a cousin] named Ch'i Shuan, 
to be held by him as his absolute property for 

To these clauses are appended any reservations 
or special provisions by which the purchaser is to be 
bound, and the deed closes with the statement that 
it is drawn up " in case hereafter there should be 
no proof of the transaction." Then follow the names 
and crosses of the witnesses, all of whom are members 
of the ** family," * the name of the writer of the deed, 
who is often a schoolmaster, and the name of the village 
headman, who is generally himself a relative. The 
witnesses, it will now be understood, are very far from 
being merely persons invited to testify to the execu- 
tion of a deed. They have themselves been consulted 
at every step of the negotiations, it is they by whom 
the purchase price has probably been fixed, and their 
consent has been necessary before the deed could be 
drawn up or the land sold. 

Mortgages in Weihaiwei, as probably in the rest 
of China, are much commoner than sales. A farmer 
will generally sell his land only because he must ; he 
will mortgage it on very slender provocation. As 
a mortgage does not definitely alienate the land from 
the family, the customary rules regulating this trans- 
action are much more flexible than those relating to 
sales. Sometimes a piece of land is merely mortgaged 
as security for a temporary loan, in which case the 
mortgagor remains on the land ; ^ in other cases it 
is mortgaged because the owner is going abroad or 
because the opposition on the part of the family to 
a definite sale is too strong to be overcome. In such 
cases the rights of cultivation are transferred to the 

• The Ciiinese word for " Family '' {chia) is often more suitably 
rendered with the word " Clan." 

* This is a customary, not a legal, arrangement. 



mortgagee. In the great majority of cases mortgaged 
lands are subsequently redeemed.^ 

Some of the customs regarding redemption are 
rather curious, and strongly emphasise the theory 
that redemption is a duty which must be undertaken 
by another member of the family if the original mort- 
gagor will not or cannot do it himself For example, 
A and B are two brothers. They fen chia^ that is 
to say they set up separate establishments, each taking 
his own share of the family property. A remains at 
home, quietly cultivating his farm, while B decides 
to emigrate to Manchuria. In order to raise some 
necessar}'' capital he decides to mortgage his share 
of the family land ; but as neither A nor any other 
relative can provide the amount of money he requires, 
he is obliged to mortgage his property to an outsider 
C — a man of different surname who lives in a neigh- 
bouring village. This man C takes possession of the 
land as mortgagee and cultivates it for some years. 
B meanwhile is in Manchuria, and no one knows how 
he is faring, or whether he is alive or dead. A now 
goes to C and tells him that he wishes to redeem 
the land mortgaged to B. It is obvious that according 
to strict legality the land should only be redeemed 
by the original mortgagor. B's name alone is on 
the deed : A had nothing whatever to do with the 
transaction. Yet, by custom, C must resign the land 
to A ; not merely because A produces the mortgage- 
price, but because he is one of B's family. 

Perhaps several years later B returns from Man- 
churia. He has money and wishes to redeem his 
land. He soon discovers that it has been redeemed 
by his brother A. His own rights of redemption, 
however, are still valid ; he applies to A for the re- 
turn of the land for the same price at which it was 
originally mortgaged to C. A must comply. If B has 
been absent many years and meanwhile the land has 

' In VVeihaiwei a mortgage is regarded as an out-and-out sale if the 
right of redemption is not exercised after a definite number of years. 


greatly risen in value, A will probably give it up 
with a very bad grace. If the original mortgage-deed 
was badly drawn up or there are some doubts about 
what actually took place, A will perhaps refuse to 
surrender the land at all unless or until he is ordered 
to do so by the court. Litigation concerning trans- 
actions of this kind has been common in Weihaiwei 
of recent years. A man who mortgaged his land 
many years ago, perhaps at a time of famine and 
scarcity, for a ridiculously small sum, returns from 
abroad to find his land worth five or more times 
what it was worth then. He is naturally eager to 
redeem it, while the person in whose hands it now is 
— whether the original mortgagee or one of the mort- 
gagor's family — is equally eager to retain it. The 
court in such cases naturally supports local custom, 
though there are sometimes bewildering complica- 
tions which render it no easy matter to give a rigidly 
just decision. Deeds of sale and mortgage of real 
property used to be drawn up in an excessively vague 
and slipshod manner — the very boundaries of the 
land being either not mentioned at all or inaccurately ; 
moreover nearly all such deeds were " white " deeds — 
that is to say they had not been put through the 
formal process of registration which would turn them 
into legal documents. To remedy this state of things 
(which was not to be wondered at in a district where 
ignorant peasants do their own conveyancing without 
legal assistance) certain recommendations were made 
some years ago which resulted in the adoption of a 
new system whereby all intending sellers and mortga- 
gors of land are obliged to use an officially-stamped 
deed-form, on which spaces are provided for the 
proper description of land-areas and other necessary 
particulars. The forms are numbered and kept in 
counterfoil-books, and no deed can evade registration 
except through the negligence of Government clerks. 
Government has in this simple procedure a small but 
unfailing source of revenue, the magistrates find their 


labours in the court simplified, and the people are 
greatly benefited by having more satisfactory title- 
deeds to their lands (or rather proofs of legal purchase 
and mortgage) than they ever had before. 

If the Chinese restrictions on a man's freedom to 
dispose of his own property are regarded from the 
Western point of view as an intolerable and unjustifi- 
able interference with the rights of the individual, let 
it be remembered that the Chinese system is expressly 
intended to protect the family rather than the in- 
dividual. But even so, does it not safeguard the 
rights of the individual as well ? If A has complete 
control over his land and can bequeath it or sell 
it to whom he chooses, what about his son B ? The 
average Chinese villager is at birth a potential landed 
proprietor.^ His share in the family inheritance ma}' 
be small, but his wants, too, are small. One often 
hears of an Englishman's desire to " found a family," 
by which is generally meant that he aspires to a 
position " in the county." The " family " of a Chinese 
never requires to be founded : it is there already. He 
does not require to engage a searcher of records to 
find out who his ancestors were so that he may be 
provided with a pedigree : he will find all the neces- 
sary information in the Ancestral Temple of his clan. 

Whatever the faults of the Chinese social system 
may be there is no doubt that in Weihaiwei it very 
largely accounts for the complete absence of pauperism 
(though no one is rich), for the orderliness of the 
people (nearly every one has a stake in the land and 
has nothing to gain and everything to lose from dis- 
order), for the uninterrupted succession of father and 

* This may be compared with Hindu custom. " The instant a child 
is born he acquires a vested right in his father's property, wliich 
cannot be sold without recognition of his joint ownership " (Maine's 
Ancient Law, p. 228). Cf. also Plato, Laws, xi, : "You cannot leave 
your property to whomsoever you please, because your property 
belongs to your family, that is, to your ancestors and your descend- 
ants." This is the Chinese theory precisely. 


son in the homesteads, and for the long pedigrees 
attested by family graveyards and ancestral tablets. 
Certainly the family trees of many of the British 
Peerage or even of the English squirearchy and the 
chieftains of Scottish clans, would make a poor forest 
compared with those of the majority of the farmer- 
folk of Weihaiwei. 

As a father cannot, except in exceptional circum- 
stances, deprive his son of the family inheritance, 
it follows that a man's power of making a will is 
severely limited. The division of property between 
brothers may take place either after their father's 
death or while he is still living. The process is 
called fen cJiia, — Division of the Family. When 
hroiher's, fen-chia it means in general terms that each 
takes his share of the family inheritance and leaves 
the paternal roof: and the document which is drawn 
up to define and give effect to the agreement is known 
as a fen-shu or written statement of the details of 
division.^ The share of each participating member of 
the family is clearly stated in the fen-shu., and each 
is given a copy of the document to hold henceforth as 
his title-deed. A feii-sim is in Weihaiwei generally 
drawn up by mutual agreement between brothers 
after their father's death. If the arrangement is made 
during the father's (or mother's) lifetime, a portion 
of the property usually remains in the parent's hands 
as yang-lao-ti — " Nourish-old-age land." After his or 
her death the yang-lao-ti is made to bear the cost 
of the funeral, and what remains is divided up among 
the heirs. A portion of the property is sometimes 
set aside as chi t'ien (sacrificial land) to be cultivated 
in turn by all the brothers participating in the 
division. Sometimes the father keeps no yang-lao-ti 
for himself but merely stipulates either that he shall 

' The fcn-shu being " neither secret, deferred, nor revocable," may 
be compared with the early Roman " Will," which was not a Will at 
all in the modern sense of the word. See Lord Avebury's Origin of 
Civilisation (6th ed.), pp. 486-7. 


be supported by all his sons in turn or shall receive 
from them a fixed proportion of the produce of their 
several shares. The former of these arrangements 
works very well when the members of the family are 
in complete harmony with one another ; but some- 
times a discordant note is struck either by an unfilial 
son or (much more often) by one of the sons' wives, 
who perhaps fails to treat her husband's father with 
proper respect.^ A woman in China, be it remem- 
bered, practically severs her connection with her own 
family when she marries ; her husband's parents are 
henceforth regarded as her own, and she owes them 
just the same obedience and filial respect that are 
owed them by her husband. The pcitria potcsfas, in 
fact, is exerted not only over sons and grandsons but 
also over their wives. But in practice we find that 
sons' wives do not always, to put it mildly, show the 
meek and reverential obedience to their kitng-tieh, or 
father-in-law, that Chinese law enjoins and public 
opinion considers desirable. 

As the mother, no less than the father of a famil}^ is 
made the object of ancestral " worship," it follows that 
she succeeds, nominally if not always actuall}^, to her 
deceased husband's control over the family property, 
A widow is regarded as possessing a life-interest in her 
husband's lands, subject of course to the rights, actual 
or potential, of her sons. If the /cii-c/iia has already 
taken place, all she can personally control is her 
yatig-lao-ti. If, however, she enters into a second 
marriage, she must relinquish all her rights in her 
first husband's property. The reason of this is obvious' 
If widows were allowed to endow their second 
husbands with the property of the first, there would 
be a gradual disintegration of the S3''stem of family- 
ownership. There would no longer be an}^ guarantee 
that the land would follow the " name." 

If the " family-division " or fen-chia does not take 
place till after the father's death but during the life- 

' Cf. p. 199. 


time of the mother, the deed of division or fen-sIm 
must make reference to the fact that the transaction 
has received the mother's authorisation. The follow- 
ing may be taken as a very ordinary type oi feii-shu 
in Weihaiwei : 

" This /('/?-5//// is made under the authority of Yii 
Ts'ung Shih.' There are three sons, of whom the 
second, Shu-yen, has been 'adopted out' to another 
branch of the family.^ The following division of 
property is made between the eldest son Shu-tung 
and the third son Shu-shan. The division is neces- 
sary because the families of Shu-tung and Shu-shan 
have become so large that it is no longer con- 
venient for them all to live together. With the 
knowledge and assent of their relatives they have 
drawn lots for the division of the property, and the 
result is as follows : Shu-tung's share is the plot of 
land . . . ; Shu-shan's share is the family house, con- 
sisting of the three-roomed central building and two 
side-buildings of two rooms each, together with the 
garden and fields bounded. . . . This deed is made 
out in duplicate, in order that Shu-tung and Shu-shan 
may each possess an original and hold it as his just 
title to the property allotted to him. This deed is 
drawn up and attested by the clan-members so that 
none of the parties concerned may hereafter go back 
on the division of property herein described. If 
any one raises any complaint hereafter, let him be 
sent to the magistrate in order that he may receive 
punishment for the crime of want of filial piety (pu 

Then follow the names of a number of attesting and 
assenting relatives, the name of the writer of the deed, 
and the date. Simultaneously a second deed, called 
a c/i'h tan or Reservation of Yang-lao-ti^ is very often 
drawn up in such terms as these : 

" This cli'ii tan is executed by Yu T'sung Shih. In- 

' That is, Mrs. Yii ncc Ts'ung. 
* Cf. pp. 205, 284 sc(i. 


asmuch as her three sons have set up separate estab- 
lishments, and one of them, namely her second son 
Shu-yen, has been adopted by another branch of the 
family, Yii Ts'ungShih, with the knowledge and assent 
of the elders and relatives of the family, reserves to 
her own use that house situated . . . and that piece of 
land measuring . . . , for the purpose of proviaing for 
her support during life and for her burial expenses 
after death.' All that remains of this property after 
these charges have been met is to be equally divided 
between the first and third sons T'sung Shu-tung 
and Ts'ung Shu-shan. The second son, Ts'ung Shu- 
3'en, has no share in or right to any portion of this 
property, as he cannot carry the family property away 
with him when he is * adopted out' ^ Lest there 
should be no proof of this transaction hereafter, this 
deed is drawn up and attested, and is to be preserved 
for future reference." 

It will be seen from the first of these two documents 
that a method of dividing real property among brothers 
is the drawing of lots {nieii cliu or chin fen). There is 
no system of primogeniture : all the brothers receive 
share and share alike. The process of lot-drawing is 
a very simple one. The family-in-council begins by 
dividing the property into a number of shares corre- 
sponding with the number of the beneficiaries. The 
shares are approximately equal in value : one may 
include the family dwelling-house and a small area 
of arable land ; another share, containing no house, 
will comprise a larger area of land; and so forth. 
Descriptions of all the shares are written on separate 
pieces of paper, which are folded up or twisted into 
little bundles and thrown together in a heap. The 
second, third and fourth brothers, and so on down 
to the youngest, draw lots, each in the order of 
seniority ; the sole remaining lot is thus left to the 
eldest brother. Each must be content with the piece 

' Sheng yang ssfi tsang. 

2 Pu neng tai ch'an cli'u chi. 


of land, or the house, or the vegetable garden, as the 
case may be, which is inscribed on his lot, though 
friendly exchanges are of course permissible. The 
eldest brother is so far from having a claim to a larger 
or better share than the rest that, as we see, he is not 
even entitled to draw the first lot : probably, indeed, 
it is to emphasise the principle of share and share 
alike that custom requires him to take the lot that 
is left to the last. The drawing of lots is not resorted 
to in cases where the shares are all equal and there 
are no preferences. 

If as a result of repeated subdivisions the family 
property has become so small that there is not enough 
to "go round," or the family is so large that an equal 
division would leave each with too little for his 
support, the usual arrangement is for the entire 
property to be mortgaged or sold to the nearest 
relatives who are willing to buy. The cash proceeds 
are then divided equally among the brothers, who 
separate to seek their fortunes, each according to his 
bent. One may emigrate to Manchuria, or join his 
numerous fellow-provincials in the capital, another 
may set up a shop in the neighbouring market-village, 
a third may wander off to one of the great com- 
mercial ports on the coast, and seek employment 
under foreigners. The unsuccessful ones may possi- 
bly never be heard of again ; the successful ones 
will probably return after many days to their native 
village and re-purchase or redeem the old family 

The remarkable increase in the value of agricultural 
land that has taken place in the Weihaiwei Territory 
during the past few years is a pleasant symptom of 
the advancing prosperity of the people. The fact 
must be admitted, however, that the increase is to a 
considerable extent due to their economic backward- 
ness. There is a serious want of local means for the 
satisfactory investment of capital. To purchase land 
is to the great mass of the population the only safe 


way in which savings or profits can be employed. 
The consequence is that the land has now acquired a 
somewhat fictitious value, a fact which may come 
prominently into view if the people should be 
visited by some calamity such as a succession of 
bad harvests. 



The villages of Weihaiwei, so far as their domestic 
affairs are concerned, are somewhat like so many little 
self-contained republics, each with its own ancestral 
temple, its t^u-ti mt'ao^ or temple of the local tutelary 
spirit, its theatre, its pasture-lands, its by-laws, its 
graveyard, and its little band of elders under the 
leadership of the headman. There is no regular 
village council. The " elders " are simply the most 
influential or most respected of the inhabitants, and 
their number is elastic. When important matters 
arise, affecting the interests of the whole village, they 
discuss them in the headman's house, or in a temple, 
or in the village street under the shade of an old tree. 
Nothing is discussed with closed doors. The whole 
village, including the women and children, may as 
a rule attend a meeting of elders, and any one who 
wishes to air his views may do so, irrespective of his 
age or position in the village. The elders have few 
privileges that their fellow-villagers do not share, and 
the headman himself is only primus infer pares. His 
authority, like that of the elders, is chiefly derived 
from his position as head of the family or clan. 

When all the people are bound together by ties of 
blood relationship, as is the case in a typical Weihai- 
wei village, the bonds of family life and the bonds 

' See pp. 336, 371-7, 382, 386 sg<7. 


of village life are one and the same. The senior 
representative of the senior branch of the family holds 
as a rule a double responsibility : as the head of the 
family he is the natural arbitrator or judge in cases 
of domestic strife or petty crime, and as headman of 
the village he is held, to a limited extent, responsible 
by Government for the good conduct of his fellow- 
villagers. It is true that in practice the headman is 
not always the senior representative of the senior 
branch of the family. Under British rule, indeed, 
every new headman is "confirmed" by Government 
and receives a cJitJi-chao, or official certificate of 
appointment. This applies both to the District head- 
men ^ and to the headmen of villages. But in both 
theory and practice the headman is the chosen of 
the people. He may fall into the position with their 
tacit consent by virtue of the patria potcstas, or in 
consequence of his wealth, strong personality or social 
prestige ; or he may be definitely elected after a 
consultation among the heads of families. 

The position of headman is not altogether enviable, 
and there is little or no competition for the filling of a 
vacancy. Sometimes, indeed, it is only after a village 
has been threatened with a general fine that it will 
make the necessary recommendation. This is es- 
pecially the case since the establishment of British 
rule, for Government shows — or did show — a tendency 
in Weihaiwei to increase the headman's responsibilities 
without giving him any compensating advantages.- 
The headman, as such, has no very definite authority 
over the individuals of his village, but every individual 
is bound by rigid unwritten law to conform to the 
will of the niaior et sanior pars, and to fulfil his duties 
to the community even if they involve his own dis- 

It is true that the Chinese village cannot be said to 

> See pp. 95, 2S9. 

- The same tendencj', with the same result, showed itself in Burma 
after the annexation to the Indian Empire. 


possess corporate unity. Even in Europe the evolu- 
tion of the "juristic person " was a slow process, and 
it is not likely that we shall find the developed 
principles of corporate existence amid the hetero- 
geneous elements of village life in China, where there 
are no professional lawyers to interpret indefinite 
social facts by the light of definite legal fictions. Yet 
the germs of the theory of a persona fida may perhaps 
be found in several features of the village-system. 
Most villages, for instance, possess funds which are 
collected and disbursed for the benefit or amusement 
of the inhabitants collectively ; and we usually find 
in the typical village a strongly-developed sense of 
mutuail responsibility and a general acceptance of the 
obligation to co-operate for common ends. A man 
was once accused before me of refusing to join his 
fellow-villagers in subscribing towards the expenses 
of the local ///// with its inevitable theatrical per- 
formances. He admitted in court that he was in the 
wrong and undertook to contribute his proper share 
forthwith. Had this man been a Christian the matter 
would not have been so easily disposed of. It is well 
known that troubles have arisen in various parts of 
China through the refusal of Christian converts to 
subscribe towards their village entertainments on 
the ground that such entertainments were idolatrous 
or involved the performance of pagan ceremonies. 
When one understands a little of the Chinese village 
organisation one can see, perhaps, that there is some- 
thing to be said on the side of the indignant " pagans," 
and that the trouble has not necessarily arisen from 
their hostility to the religious views, as such, of their 
converted fellow-villagers. It is obvious that the 
solidarity of the village system would be severely 
shaken if individuals were allowed to dissociate them- 
selves at will from the actions of the village as a 

As the Village does not possess a strictly corporate 
character, it follows that though there may be pasture 


lands, wells, roads, and other property which belong 
to all the inhabitants collectively, it would be in- 
accurate to say that the Village as such is the ultimate 
owner of, or has reversionary rights over any real 
property. If such rights seem to be possessed by any 
given village they will be found to rest on the fact 
that the village comprises a single family or clan — 
village and family being, in fact, almost interchange- 
able terms ; but it is the family, not the village, that 
owns the land. If a village has two " surnames," 
say Liu and Ch'i, it will never be found that arable 
land is jointly owned by the Liu and the Ch'i families, 
though both families may have equal customary rights 
(not definable in law) over a tract of pasture-land. 
Another indication that the real entity is the family 
and not the village may be found in the fact that many 
old and long-established families " overflow," as it 
were, from their original villages into many neigh- 
bouring villages, and still possess a kind of unity 
entirely lacking to the villages as such. The Chiang 
family, to take a specific example, is the sole or 
principal family in the village of Chiang-chia-chai, 
but it is also the sole or predominant partner in at 
least five villages within a radius of as many miles. 
One outward sign of its essential unity consists in 
the old family burying-ground, in which all the 
Chiangs in all these villages have equal rights of 

The peace of an ordinary VVeihaiwei village is not 
often seriously disturbed. The chief causes of trouble 
are bad-tempered women, who form an appreciable 
proportion of the population. Robbers and other 
law-breakers are few in number ; not necessarily 
because the Chinese are by nature more honest and 
respectable than other people, but because the social 
system to which they belong is singularly well adapted, 
in normal times at least, to prevent the outbreak of 
criminal propensities. No village possesses any body 
of men whose special duty it is to act as a police force, 


p. 158] 



yet it is hardly an exaggeration to say that every 
village is policed by its entire adult male population. 
The bonds of family and village life are such that every 
male villager finds himself directly or indirectly re- 
sponsible for the good behaviour of some one else. The 
bad characters of every village soon become marked 
men. B^or minor offences, evil-doers are punished by 
their neighbours in accordance with long-standing 
rules and by-laws; if they are regarded as incorrigible, 
they are either expelled with ignominy from the family 
and clan to which they belong' or they are handed 
over for punishment to the nearest magistrate. Every 
unknown stranger who arrives in a village is im- 
mediately treated with a disquieting mixture of hos- 
pitality and suspicion. He is not interfered with so 
long as he encroaches on nobody's rights, but all 
the villagers constitute an informal band of amateur 
detectives for the purpose of keeping an eye on his 
movements and ascertaining his intentions. He is 
regarded, in fact, as a suspicious character until he 
settles down and becomes a land-owner, and that— 
for reasons already explained — he can hardly ever 
hope to do. 

There are curious old customs which seem to 
indicate that even the native of a village who returns 
home, after many years' residence abroad, must in 
some places go through a kind of formal re-admission 
before he is allowed to resume his position on the old 
footing of equality. A man once came to me with a 
complaint which, under cross-examination, he stated 
somewhat as follows : " I was nine years absent 
from my village. When I went home a few days ago, 
I was ordered by the people of the village to give 
a feast. I asked them to let me postpone it for a few 
weeks. They did not say they were glad to see me 
back. They insisted that the feast must be given at 

' This process, whereby the expelled one ceases to enjoy the rights 
to which his birth entitles him, is known ast//'« tsu^ — " expulsion from 
the clan." 


once. I am quite willing to give it later on. It is a 
village custom. Any one who leaves the village and 
stays away several years must provide a feast for 
the heads of the village families when he returns. 
1 have no fault to find with the custom, only I want 
a few weeks* grace," 

Nearly all villages in Weihaiwei have certain police 
regulations which are made and promulgated by the 
local elders. They possess, of course, no legal sanc- 
tion, though they are frequently brought to the British 
magistrates for approval and to be stamped with an 
official seal. They consist of lists of punishable 
offences, and the penalties attached to them : the 
money fines being imposed by the village or clan 
elders, and applied by them to local uses. There is a 
good deal of variety among these village regulations or 
ts^un kuci in respect of penalties, though the punish- 
able offences are everywhere much the same. They 
always repay inspection, for they throw an interesting 
light on the local morality and the views held by the 
leaders of public opinion as to the relative seriousness 
of different classes of misdemeanours. A written copy 
of the ts'iin kiici is usually kept in the family Ancestral 
Temple or in the headman's house. The follov/ing is 
a translation of one of these documents : 

*' I. Trampling on or desecrating graves or 
allowing domestic animals to desecrate graves 
in the ancestral burial-ground . . .10 tiao} 

2. Usurping portions of the common pas- 
ture land (jnii niii ch'ang) or ploughing up 
portions thereof 5 tiao. 

3. Removing fuel from private land without 
permission, and cutting willows and uproot- 
ing shrubs and trees 3 tiao, 

4. Allowing mules, ponies, pigs, sheep, or 
other animals to feed on private ground 
without the owner's permission ... 3 tiao. 

5. Stealing crops 5 tiao. 

6. Stealing manure from private gardens . 3 tiao. 

' A //ao is at present worth approximately eighteenpence. 


7. Moving boundary-stones ... 5 tiao. 

8. Obstructing or blocking the right of way 

to the common pasture land .... 5 tiao. 

If any of the above offences are committed at night- 
time, the punishment is Expulsion from the Village. 

If any person having committed any of these offences 
declares that he will die rather than pay his fine, let 
him be conveyed to the magistrate. 

The following are exempted from punishment as 
being irresponsible for their actions and deserving of 
compassion : children under twelve, dumb people, and 

Very serious offences, such as housebreaking, violent 
assault, homicide, and offences against morality are 
not mentioned in the ts'itii kitei, as neither Chinese 
nor British law would recognise the power of the 
villagers to take upon themselves the punishment of 
such crimes. The very prevalent vice of gambling is 
sometimes but not always punishable under the kiiei. 
It occupies a conspicuous place in the knei published 
by the East and West villages of Ch'u-chia-chuang, of 
which the following is a translation : 

" I. Gambling: 

(a) The owner of the house where 

gambling takes place to be fined 30 tiao. 

{b) Each gambler to be fined . . 5 tiao. 

{c) Persons of the village who gamble 
outside the village, but within 
the limits of the village lands, to 
be fined 2 tiao. 

{d) Gamblers under fifteen years of 

age to be fined .... 2 tiao. 

2. Any person who unlawfully digs up his 
neighbours grass and shrubs, to be fined . 500 cash.^ 

3. Any person who steals manure from 
private gardens, if the offence is committed 

m daytime, to be fined 500 cash. 

Half a tiao. 

1 1 


4. The perpetrator of the same offence, if 
it is committed at night, to be fined . . 2 tiao. 

S- Any person who steals crops from the 
fields or vegetables or fruit from private 
gardens, if he is adult, to be fined ... 3 tiao. 

6. Any child who commits the same offence, 
to be fined 200 cash. 

The above Rules have been made by the whole 
Village in council, and must be obeyed by every one, 
irrespective of age and sex. If any offender refuses 
to pay his fine the headman and elders will report 
him to the magistrate, who will be asked to inflict 

The following is a translation of a similar document 
in which the penalties imposed are somewhat light; 
but in this case the kuci are of ancient date and the 
tiao was worth a great deal more than at present. 

" I. Gambling . Fine levied according 

to circumstances. 

2. Cutting trees and shrubs . . . i tiao. 

3. Stealing crops ..... i tiao. 

4. Gleaning in the harvest-fields without 
permission i tiao. 

5. Feeding cattle in a neighbour's field 

after harvest ....... i tiao. 

6. Uprooting grass and shrubs . . 500 cash. 

7. Climbing over private walls and 
stealing manure or removing soil. 

8. Stealing fuel at night .... 

500 cash. 
5 tiao. 
9. Stealing silk-worms or cocoons . Fine 

levied according to circumstances. 
10. Knocking down chestnuts with sticks. 500 cash. 
I r. Allowing dogs to go on the ts'aii ch'aug 
(silk-worm feeding-ground) and eat the 
silk-worms ^ 500 cash. 

Headmen and elders who are found guilty of any 

' Silk-worms are fed on the leaves of the scrub-oak on the open hill- 


of the above offences will incur double the specified 

If doubtfuP characters enter the village and create 
a disturbance, the heads of all the families will hold a 
meeting to decide what is to be done with them." 

We have seen that a large number of the villages 
of Weihaiwei are named after the families that in- 
habit them. But when a single prosperous family 
has " overflowed " into a number of other villages it 
is necessary to differentiate between them, and the 
names given have often some reference to the outward 
aspect of the locality. For example, the name Sha-li- 
Wang-chia means the village of the " Wang-family- 
who-live-in-the-sand." As a matter of fact this village 
is situated near the seashore amid rolling sandhills, 
so the name is appropriate enough. Similarly the 
name Sung-lin-Kuo-chia means " the Kuo family of 
the Pine-grove." There are also such village names 
as Willow-grove, Black Rock, Thatched Temple, 
North-of-the-Ku-mountain, North-of-the-Pheasant-hill, 
White-pony Village. Sometimes pieces of family-land 
are given fancy names for the convenience of identifi- 
cation. The Ssu-lao-p'o koii is " the ditch of the dead 
woman," apparently because a female's corpse was 
once found there : but as this name struck the owner 
as being unlucky and likely to bring misfortune on 
his family, he changed the " tone " of the first word, 
which transformed the phrase into " the ditch of the 
four old wives." 

Men have their nicknames as well as places. Such 
names generally emphasise the owner's moral or phy- 
sical peculiarities, and are often highly appropriate. 
The name Liu T'ieh-tsui, for instance, means Liu of 
the Iron Mouth — an allusion to his argumentative 
nature and love of brawling. Chou Lii, or Chou 
the Donkey, implies just what it would imply in 
JEngland. One man writhes under the name Yu 

' Literally, "not clear" {fu nihtg). 


Hsieh-tzu — Yu the Scorpion — because his neighbours 
look upon him as a poisonous creature. Another is 
known as W^ang Ko-p'i-tzu — Wang Gash-skin — because 
he is possessed of a knife-like sharpness of tongue. 
Yet another is spoken of as Chang T'ien Tzu — Chang 
the Son of Heaven, or Chang the Emperor — because 
he is the tyrant of his village. 

The food of the people, as everywhere in China, is 
largely vegetarian, but fish (dried and fresh) is naturally 
eaten by all classes in Weihaiwei, and pork is con- 
sumed by all except the very poorest. The Chinese, 
it seems clear, would willingly endorse the judgment 
given in the Anatomy of Melancholy, where we are told 
that "pork of all meats is most nutritive in his own 
nature." Rice — the staple food in south China — is 
something of a luxury, as it has to be imported. 
There is a kind of " dry-rice " ^ grown in Shantung, 
but it is not a common crop in Weihaiwei. The 
ordinary grain-crops are wheat, millet, maize, barley 
and buckwheat. The wheat is harvested about the 
end of June and early in July. Immediately after the 
harvest the fields are ploughed up and sown with 
beans. The land is cultivated to its utmost capacity, 
and it need hardly be said that the farmer takes care 
to waste no material that may be useful for manuring 
purposes. Most fields are made to yield at least three 
crops every two years, and as the rotation of crops is 
well understood it is seldom that land is allowed to 
lie fallow. 

In recent years very large areas have been devoted 
to pea-nuts, which are exported from Weihaiwei to 
the southern parts in enormous quantities and have 
become a source of considerable profit. Vegetables 
are grown in large quantities and include asparagus, 
onions, cabbage, garlic, celery, spinach, beans and 
sweet potatoes. Fruit is not cultivated to any great 
extent, though there are apples, peaches, apricots, 
plums, pears, melons and some other varieties, most 

' Han tao nii. 


of which are inferior to similar fruit grown in England. 
The services of an English fruit-grower were obtained 
by the British Government of Weihaiwei during the 
years 1905-8 with the two chief objects of testing 
the suitability of the district for fruit-cultivation and 
inducing the people if possible to make fruit-grov^nng 
an important local industry. Partly owing to lack 
of enterprise and to a want of familiarity with the 
conditions under which fruit could be exported or 
profitably disposed of, the people have not responded 
to the efforts of the Government with any enthusiasm ; 
but that Weihaiwei is a suitable locality for fruit- 
growing as well as for the cultivation of many kinds 
of vegetables has been amply demonstrated. The 
grape-vine flourishes provided reasonable precautions 
are taken against insect-pests.^ Of English fruits 
which do well in Weihaiwei are apples, pears, plums, 
black-currants and strawberries. Of the last-named 
fruit it has been reported that " English varieties 
grow and crop splendidly, and the fruit is equal 
in every way to first-class fruit of the same varieties 
grown at home. All the varieties introduced proved 
to be perfectly hardy without any protection what- 

Weihaiwei is not without game of various kinds, 
though the want of sufficient cover keeps down the 
numbers of many game-birds that would otherwise 
thrive. Woodcock are rare, and pheasants rarer still ; 
but partridges are to be found in certain localities 
such as the neighbourhood of Lin-chia-yiian, near 
Wen-ch'iian-t'ang, and other hill-districts. The coasts 
are visited by various kinds of duck and teal, wild 
geese are common enough in winter, and the wild 
swan has been shot occasionally ; but the best sport 

* The Government fruit-grower has recommended the Black Ham- 
burgh, Muscat of Alexandria and Malaya — which ripen in succession — 
as the best varieties of table-grapes for Weihaiwei, while of wine- 
grapes the most satisfactory are the Mataro, Alicante Bouschet, Black 
Malvoise, Grenache, Zinfandel, Charbons and Johannesburg Riesling. 


is provided in spring and autumn by the snipe. The 
record "bag," so far as I am aware, is ninety-five and 
a half couple of snipe in one day to tv/o guns. The 
local Annals tell us that a small spotted deer, and 
also wild boar, used to be common among the hills 
of Weihaiwei, but they are now unknown. The 
Manchurian Muntjak tiger (Felts brachyunis) has also 
disappeared. Mount Macdonald and other wild parts 
of the Territory harbour a few wolves which occa- 
sionally raid the outskirts of a village and kill pigs 
and other animals. In seasons of famine, as we have 
seen,^ the wolves of Weihaiwei have been something 
of a scourge, but they have greatly decreased in 
numbers in recent years. Foxes are occasionally 
seen, and there are said to be some wild cats. Hares 
are numerous, and until the disbandment of the 
Chinese Regiment they were regularly hunted with 
a pack of harriers. 

Agriculture, fishing and the manufacture of a rough 
silk form the principal industries of the people. The 
silk-worms are fed not on the mulberry but, as 
already mentioned, on the leaves of the scrub-oak, 
which now covers large areas of mountain land that 
would otherwise be totally unproductive. One may 
often notice, about the months of June and July, 
small shreds of red cloth tied to the oak-shrubs on 
which the silk-worms are feeding. Red is the colour 
which betokens happiness and success, and rags of 
that colour when tied to shrubs and fruit-trees are 
supposed to act as charms, guaranteeing the success 
of the fruit and silk crops, and keeping away injurious !' 
insects. Men who are engaged in the work oi fang- 
ts^an — putting out the worms on the oak-leaves — 
make success surer by adorning the front of their 
own coats with similar pieces of red cloth. They 
also invoke the sympathy and help of the s/ian-s/ini, 
or Spirit of the Mountain, by erecting miniature 
shrines to that deit3^ 

' See pp. 56, 57. 


If the Weihaiwei villages are not in themselves 
objects of beauty they are often surrounded by groves 
of trees which go far to conceal their less attractive 
features ; and many of the cottages have little gardens 
which if chiefly devoted to vegetables are seldom 
quite destitute of flowers. The peony, chrysanthe- 
mum, wild lilies and roses, spiraea, hibiscus, jasmine, 
sunflower, campanula, iris and Michaelmas daisy are 
all common, and a few experiments made since the 
British occupation prove that numerous English 
flowers such as the Canterbury Bell, mignonette, 
carnation, aster, wall-flower, geranium and many 
others, in spite of an uneven rainfall and extremes 
of heat and cold seldom experienced in England, find 
a congenial home in Weihaiwei. Many of the flower- 
ing plants are prized for their medicinal qualities, 
real or supposed. The sunflower-seed — as in India 
and Russia — is used as a food for both men and 
animals, and the leaves and stems are said to make 
good fodder. A little purple wildflower named 
cJiing tzu that grows on sandy soil near the seaside 
is in some localities eaten by women on account of 
its magical efficacy in giving strength to unborn 
children : but this superstition seems to be dying out. 

The trees in the neighbourhood of villages and in 
graveyards are common property, and it is very 
rarely, therefore, that they are cut down : elsewhere 
trees are very few, and timber is so scarce that large 
quantities are imported yearly from Manchuria.^ 
Some of the principal trees of the Territory are the 
fir {Pinus T/iiinbi'rgii d.nd Finns Massojiiaiid), ailanthus, 
ivu-t'iDig (Pauloiiia imperialis) and white poplar ; and 
there are also cypress, walnut, ch'in iCaialpa), pome- 
granate, wax-tree,- the beautiful maidenhair tree 

' The local Government — not very wisely from the point of view of 
sound economics — levies small " wharfage-dues " on imported timber. 

■'' This is the pai-la sJiii so well known in Ssiich'uan in connection 
with the insect-wax industry, which is also carried on to a small extent 
in Shantung though not in Weihaiwei. 


{Salisbiiria adiantifolid)'^ and the linai shu {Sophora 

Among the trees introduced since the British 
occupation, the acacia, Lombardy poplar, laburnum, 
yew and some others thrive in the Territory, but 
the oak, sycamore, elm, birch, mountain-ash and 
many other trees well known in England have hitherto 
proved failures. From the present denuded condition 
of the hills one would hardly suppose that the people 
of Weihaiwei cared much for trees : yet as a matter 
of fact they value them highly for their shade and 
for their beauty. Public opinion is strongly averse 
to the wanton destruction of all trees and herbage. 
An illustration of this is given in the local records. 
" It is a very evil thing," says the Wcihahvci Cliih^ 
"to set fire to the woods and shrubs, and pitifully 
cruel to the living animals that are made to suffer 
thereby. In the Shun Chih period [about 1650] 
Chiang Ping and his sons used to behave in this 
dreadful manner at Li Shan [a few miles from 
Weihaiwei city]. They received numberless warn- 
ings but never would they depart from their evil 
courses. One day they were going home from market 
and lit a fire on the hillside. Suddenly when the 
fire had begun to blaze a fierce wind sprang up, and 
Chiang Ping and his three sons were all burned 
to death. This is a warning that men should take 
to heart." 

The compilers of the Jung-ch^eng Chih sum up the 
character and manners of the people in a way that 
hardly needs amplification and shows what are the 
features that strike a Chinese observer as of special 
interest. "They are very simple and somewhat 
uncouth and unpolished," he says, " but they are 

' Probably the finest specimen of the ginkgo or maidenhair tree in 
the Territory is that in the grounds of Pei-k'ou Temple. Besides being 
very tall, it measures fourteen and a half feet in circumference five 
feet from the ground. See p. 381 for remarks on another of these 


honest. They have some good old customs and show 
by their conduct that they are guided by the light 
of nature more than by learning. The men are 
independent and self-reliant ; the women are frugal, 
modest, and are most careful of their chastity. If 
they lose that they hold life as worthless. The men 
till the land ; the women spin. The people are 
stupid at business of a mercantile nature : mer- 
chants therefore are few. Many strangers from other 
districts live on the islands and in the market-centres.^ 
In bad years when the harvests are scanty and there 
is a dearth of grain the hill-grasses and wild herbs 
are used as food. Clansmen, relatives, and neighbours 
take pity on each other's distress, hence one rarely 
hears of the sale of boys and girls.- . . . Betrothals 
are arranged when the principals are still in their 
swaddling-clothes, and thus (owing to deaths and 
other causes) marriages often fail to take place. 
Babyhood is certainly too early a time for betrothals.^ 
There are too many betrothals between people of 
different districts : hence one may find women over 
thirty years of age still unmarried.' This tends to 
the grave injury of morals. When betrothals are 
discussed it is considered by all disgraceful to hold 
mercenary views" or to aim at riches and honours. 
It is also considered discreditable to give a girl to a 
man as a concubine."^ 
The " uncouthness" of the people must be under- 

' For temporary purposes of trade. 

* Sale of children by starving parents is a painful feature of famines 
in some parts of China. 

* This criticism from a Chinese writer is interesting, when we re- 
member that the practice is much the same throughout the greater part 
of the Empire. 

* This is exceptionally rare at the present time. The overwhelming 
majority of women are married before the age of twenty-five. 

•"• Mercenary views are held all the same. 

* In proportion to the population there are very few concubines in 
Weihaiwei, and most of them are imported from Peking and other 


Stood in a relative sense only. In spite of the fact that 
the great majority are illiterate they possess in a 
marked degree the natural courtesy that characterises 
so many Oriental races. In considering this point 
with reference to Chinese in general one must not 
ignore the fact that they have been often guilty of 
rudeness and even savage brutality in their inter- 
course with Western foreigners ; but to regard 
rudeness and brutality as permanent or prominent 
elements in the Chinese character would be absurd, 
for if such were the case every Chinese village 
would be in a chronic state of social chaos. Out- 
bursts against foreigners, however inexcusable from 
a moral standpoint, are always traceable to some 
misunderstanding, to foreign acts of aggression or 
acts which the Chinese rightly or wrongly inter- 
pret as acts of aggression, or to abnormal political 
or social conditions for which foreigners are rightly 
or Vk^rongly held responsible. Most unprejudiced 
foreigners are willing to admit that in normal times 
the Chinese are a singularly courteous people, ex- 
cept when they have taken on a veneer of Western 
civilisation in the treaty-ports' and have lost their 
national graces. If the Chinese behave politely to 
foreigners — whom they do not like — we may well 
suppose that in social intercourse with one another 
their manners are still more courteous • and this is 
undoubtedly true. Their rules ot ceremony may 

' It is a curious fact, and one never yet satisfactorily explained, that 
people of non-European races all seem to lose their native grace of 
manner after a period of contact with Europeans. This does not 
apply to Asiatic peoples (Indian and Chinese) only : it is apparently 
equally true with regard to certain African races. Miss Bleek, in a 
recent work published by tlie Clarendon Press under the auspices of 
the Royal Anthropological Institute, remarks that the Bushmen are by 
nature truthful, clean, honest and courteous. " Once another Bush- 
man visited ours for a few days. He was so much rougher than the 
other that our man was asked why his friend was different. He said, 
' Missis must excuse : this man lost his parents early and was brought 
up bj' white people.' " 


seem, from the foreigner's point of view, too stiff 
and artificial, or exasperating in their pedantic minute- 
ness. The European is incHned to laugh at social 
laws which indicate with preciseness when and how 
a mourner should wail at a funeral, what expressions 
a man must use when paying visits of condolence 
or congratulation, what clothes must be worn on 
different occasions, how a visitor must be greeted, 
how farewells are to be said, how modes of saluta- 
tion are to be differentiated and how chairs are to be 
sat upon. But, after all, every race has its own code 
of polite manners, and rules that impress a foreigner 
as intolerably formal or as ludicrous seem quite 
natural to one who has been accustomed to them from 
his earliest childhood. The rules of Chinese etiquette 
may be stiff, but there is no stiffness about the Chinese 
gentleman — or about the illiterate Chinese peasant — 
when he is acting in accordance with those rules. 

Gambling has been mentioned as one of the vices of 
the people. That this should be a common failing 
among the Chinese is not a matter of surprise, seeing 
that there is probably no race among whom the 
gambling instinct is not to be found. It is, perhaps, 
specially likely to develop itself strongly among a 
people who, through lack of general culture, are at 
a loss to find suitable occupations for their leisure 
hours. The Chinese, however, delight in games for 
their own sake, as is evident from their fondness for 
their own somewhat complicated forms of chess and 
similar games. Serious cases of gambling are of 
course punished by the law. A new penal offence is 
opium-smoking, which now can be indulged in only 
by persons who hold a medical certificate. According 
to the official lists prepared by the local Government, 
the number of people who may be regarded as in- 
veterate smokers amounts to no more than (if as many 
as) one per cent, of the population : but there is a 
certain amount of secret smoking and doubtless a 
good deal of smuggling. 


On the whole, it cannot be said that opium seems 
to have done any very serious harm to the health 
or morals of the people of this district, — not, at least, 
as compared with the havoc wrought by alcohol in 
England and Scotland, If the experience of Wei- 
haiwei goes for anything, the view sometimes held 
that opium-smokers must necessarily become slaves 
to the drug is an erroneous one. Many persons who 
were in the habit of indulging in an occasional pipe 
of opium at festive gatherings have now abjured the 
seductive drug without a sigh, and — ^^judging from 
a few rather ominous indications — seem inclined to 
take to the wine-pot as a substitute. It may be only 
a curious coincidence that while I have been obliged 
to punish only six Chinese for drunkenness during a 
period of about five years, all six cases have occurred 
since the establishment of the new anti-opium regula- 
tions in 1909. 

The Chinese have great reverence for book-learning, 
but poverty and the necessity for hard work from an 
early age have made it hopeless for the Weihaiwei 
villager to aspire to erudition. Every large village 
and every group of small villages have schools, but 
they are attended only by a small though gradually 
increasing proportion of the village children. The 
schoolmasters, moreover, are neither a very zealous 
nor a very learned body, — not a surprising fact 
when it is remembered that they receive no more 
than a bare living wage. At present the pro- 
portion of villagers who can read and write is 
very small — probably under ten per cent.— and even 
the headmen are often unable to sign their own 

Not much progress in education has been made under 
British rule, for the resources of the Government are 
meagre in the extreme. A Government school at Port 
Edward and one or two missionary schools provide 
elementary education for a few dozen children, but 
very little has been done to improve the village 


schools. It need hardly be said that except in the 
Government and missionary schools the education, 
such as it is, is confined to the orthodox curri- 
culum of " Old China" : the flood of Western learning 
has not yet affected the little backwater of Wei- 
haiwei except to the extent of rousing a certain 
limited interest in such subjects as geography and 

Writing of present-day conditions, a Chinese diplo- 
matist in the United States has stated that "John 
Stuart Mill, Huxley, Spencer, Darwin and Henry 
George, just to mention a few of the leading scholars 
of the modern age, are as well known in China as in 
this country. The doctrine of the survival of the 
fittest is on the lips of every thinking Chinese. . . . 
Western knowledge is being absorbed by our young 
men at home or abroad at a rapid rate, and the mental 
power of a large part of four hundred millions of 
people, formerly concentrated on the Confucian 
classics, is being turned in a new direction — the study 
of the civilisation of the West." ^ These remarks are 
true enough of a large and rapidly growing number 
of the Chinese people : but Weihaiwei and the 
neighbouring regions have more in common with 
the Old China that is passing away than with the 
New China that is coming and to come. 

The ignorance of the people of Weihaiwei is 
naturally accompanied by many strange fancies and 
crude superstitions. Some of these must be con- 
sidered when we are dealing with the religious ideas 
of the people ; here it will be sufficient to mention 
a few of the miscellaneous notions that seem to be 
connected with no definite religious faith. There are, 
of course, ghosts and devils of many kinds and of 
varying degrees of malevolence. One means of pro- 
tecting oneself against these dreadful creatures is to 
engage a fortune-teller or a Taoist priest to provide 

' The United States and China, by VVei-ching W. Yen (American 
Association for International Conciliation : New York). 


a charm {fu),^ the mere presence of which is supposed 
to throw a whole army of demons into helpless con- 
fusion. Children, it is thought, are specially liable 
to injury from evil spirits, and many of them have 
charms or talismans carefully sewn into their clothes. 
A piece of red cloth or a few scarlet threads woven 
into the queue are understood to answer the purpose 
nearly as well. A disagreeable monster called the 
Celestial Dog (Vien Kou) is supposed to be the cause 
of ill-temper and petulance in small children ; but 
even he can be got rid of by nailing a cunningly- 
prepared charm above the afflicted child's bed. It is 
curious that a dog (a black one) also plays an un- 
dignified part in the nursery-mythology of our own 
happy land. Whether the Western dog would yield 
to the same treatment as the Eastern one is a question 
that might easily be solved by any parent who is 
prepared to make use of the charm here reproduced.- 

Weihaiwei also has its witches {ivn p'o) and diviners 
(often called siiaii kiia hsieji-sJiciig), who by acting as 
trance-mediums between the living and the dead, or 
by manipulating little wands of bamboo or peach- 
wood,-^ or by the use of a kind of planchctte,, profess 
to be able to foretell the future^ or to answer 
questions regarding the present and past, or to disclose 
where stolen property has been concealed and by 
whom it has been taken. I have personally known 
of a case in which a thief was captured by means of 
the indications given by a fortune-teller. His method 
was to take a small stick in each hand and point 

' See illustration. 

* See illustration. The T'icn Kou is the Japanese Tengu. See 
Trans. As. Soc. Jap. Pt. ii ( 1 908). 

^ For the magic uses of peach-wood see De Groot's Religions System 
of China, vol. iv. pp. 304 seq. 

* "I see no race of men, however polished and educated, however 
brutal and barbarous, which does not believe that warnings of future 
events are given, and may be understood and announced by certain 
persons." Cicero's words, after the lapse of a couple of thousand 
years, are still true. (See Cic. de Divi?iatione, i. i.) 


P- 174] 


them both in front of him, keeping his clenched hands 
close to his sides. He then moved slowly round, and 
when the sticks were pointing in the direction the 
thief had gone the points came together.^ No doubt 
there is as much make-believe and quackery about 
these mysterious doings as there is in the similar 
practices of many so-called mediums in the West ; 
but I am unwilling to believe that " there is nothing 
in it." Some day, let us hope, the " spiritualism " of 
China will be thoroughly studied by scientific inves- 
tigators, and it will be surprising if the results do not 
form a most valuable addition to the material collected 
by the European and American societies for psychical 

' A very similar method of divining is practised in the Malay States. 
See Svvettenham's Malay Sketches^ pp. 201 -7, and Skeat's Malay 
Magic, p. 542. 

' The following remarks in Dennys's Folk-lore of Chum (pp. 56 
seq}j will be of interest to those who are wise enough to regard this 
subject with unorthodox seriousness: "Divination is in China as 
popular as, and probably more respectable than, it was amongst the 
Israelites in the days of the witch of Endor, and it is not perhaps 
going too far to say that there is not a single means resorted to in the 
West by waj' of lifting the impenetrable veil which hides the future 
from curious mankind which is not known to and practised by the 
Chinese. From 'Pinking the Bible' to using the Planchette, from 
tossing for odd and even to invoking spirits to actually speak through 
crafty media, the whole range of Western superstition in this regard 
is as familiar to the average Chinaman as to the most enthusiastic 
spiritualist at home. The coincidences of practice and belief are 
indeed so startling that many will doubtless see in them a sort of 
evidence either for their truthfulness, or for a common origin of evil. 
... It is when we come to the consulting of media, the use of a forked 
stick, writing on sand, and similar matters that the Chinese practice 
becomes singular in its resemblance to superstitions openly avowed at 
home. I would here remark that I am no spiritualist. But how, 
without any apparent connection with each other, such beliefs should 
at once be found in full force in the farthest East and the extreme 
West is puzzling. Is our Western spiritualism derived from China ?" 
It may be added that Japanese "occultism " — to use a disagreeable but 
useful word — is very similar to Chinese, and offers equally striking 
analogies with that of Europe. (See Percival Lowell's Occult 


Witches and mediums in Weihaiwei are often applied 
to for remedies in cases of bodily sickness, for it is 
supposed that what such persons do not know about 
herbs and drugs is not worth knowing ; and the fact 
that they are able to throw a little magic into their 
brews naturally makes their concoctions much more 
valuable than those provided by ordinary doctors. 
Chinese medicines, as every one knows, often consist 
of highly disagreeable ingredients,^ but some — even 
when compounded by witches and other uncanny 
healers — are comparatively harmless. Certain methods 
of treatment for the bite of a mad dog may perhaps 
be cited as t3^pical products of the combined arts of 
medicine and witchcraft in Weihaiwei. The simplest 
method is to boil the mad dog's liver, heart and lungs, 
and make the patient eat them. Another is to make 
a number of little wheat-cakes, moulded into a dog's 
shape, and administer them to the patient one by one. 
As he consumes them he should sit at the front door 
of his house and repeatedly utter in a loud and deter- 
mined voice the words, " I am not going to die ; I am 
not going to die." This procedure is evidently a 
curious blend of something like sympathetic magic 
and cure by self-suggestion. Have the Chinese anti- 
cipated the methods of the well-meaning persons who 
call themselves Christian Scientists ? A third way of 
providing against hydrophobia is to take some of the 
hairs of the mad dog and burn them to ashes ; the 
ashes are then mixed in a cup of rice-wine and imbibed 
by the patient. The idea that the hair of a mad dog 
will cure the person who has had the misfortune to 
be bitten must be very widespread, for it existed in 

' It is not so well known that almost equally disgusting medicines 
used to be prescribed in England. One writer saj^s of some old 
Lincolnshire remedies for ague that they "were so horribly hlthy that 
I am inclined to think most people must have preferred the ague, or 
the race could hardly have survived." One of these remedies consisted 
of nine worms taken from a churchyard sod and chopped up small. 
(See Cou7ity Folk-lofe, vol. v, p. 117. J 


the British Isles and there is a reference to it in the 
Scandinavian Edda.^ 

Those who are famiHar with the mazes of folk-lore 
will not be surprised to hear that the madness of a 
person who suffers from hydrophobia is supposed by 
many people in Weihaiwei to communicate itself to 
the very clothes he wears. " If the clothes are put 
aside in a heap," said one of my informants, "they 
will be seen to quiver and tremble, and sometimes 
they will leap about as if alive." Being a truthful 
man, he added, " I have never actually seen this 
happen myself." In the market-village of Feng-lin 
there is a man of some local celebrity who is said to 
have effected many remarkable cures of hydrophobia 
by means of a recipe which he jealously guards as a 
family secret. 

If his prescription cannot be given here, another 
(supposed to be equally efficacious) may take its 
place. Cut the tips off a couple of chopsticks (the 
Oriental substitute for knife and fork), pound them 
into a pulp and stew them for an hour ; add an 
ounce of hempen-fibre, burnt almost to ashes, and 
some morsels of the herb known as cWiug-fcug-t^eng. 
The chopsticks must be of wood, painted red, and 
they must be old ones that have been often used. 
The tips consist of the thin ends employed in pick- 
ing up food. The whole mixture should be well 
mixed together and boiled in water, and administered 
to the patient as a liquid drug. The prescription 
adds that while undergoing this treatment the patient 
should beware of yielding himself to feelings of ner- 
vousness ; that for three days he must shun cold or 
uncooked food ; and that owing to the singular efficacy 
of this medicine, he need not avoid crossing rivers. 
The mention of the ends of chopsticks as an ingredient 
in this preparation seems curious, and specially note- 
worthy is the fact that the medicinal virtue resides 

* Tylor, Pri?nitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. i. p. 84. On tliis subject 
see also Dennys's Folk-lore of China, pp. 51-2. 



onl}^ in old chopsticks, not in new ones. As this 
ingredient appears in other Chinese medicines besides 
those intended for the cure of hydrophobia, it may 
be conjectured that some health-giving quality is 
supposed to pass into the tips of chopsticks from 
the food which they manipulate, and that this quality 
can be transferred from the chopsticks to a living 
person by the simple process of conveying them in 
a minced form into his physical system. The red 
colour is merely intended to improve their efficacy, 
for red is the hue of health and good luck. The 
reference to crossing rivers is also worthy of notice. 
The theory of the Chinese in Weihaiwei is that the 
man who has been bitten by a rabid dog is liable to 
be seized by paroxysms of madness if he crosses 
flowing water. The word hydrophobia (dread of 
water) is thus as applicable to the popular conception 
of the disease in China as in Europe, though the belief 
that the human patient or the mad dog will refuse 
water as a beverage does not seem to be known in 

The lives of the Weihaiwei villagers are brightened 
and diversified by a good number of festivals and 
holidays. Most of these are observed all over China, 
others are of local importance, while some of the 
customs and ceremonies now to be described are 
observed only in certain villages. The universal 
holiday-season in China consists of course of the first 
few days of the New Year, which falls about a month 
— more or less— later than the corresponding festival 
in the West. After the hour of zvu keng (3 a.m.) on 
the first day of the year, torches are lighted and 
certain religious or semi-religious observances take 
place, consisting of the worship of Heaven and Earth 
{T'ien Ti), the Hearth-god and the Ancestors of the 
family, and the ceremonial salutation of father and 
mother by their children, and of uncles and aunts 
and elder brothers by their respective nephews and 
younger brothers. Fire crackers are let off at intervals 


during the morning and tliroughout the day, and from 
dawn onwards visits of ceremony are exchanged be- 
tween relations and neighbours. The Ancestral Temple 
is also visited, and incense burned before the spirit- 
tablets and the pedigree-scrolls, which are unrolled 
only on solemn occasions. In conversation all re- 
ference to unhappy or unlucky subjects is tabooed, 
as likely to bring misfortune on the family in whose 
house such remarks are made.' 

On going out of doors for the first time care should 
be taken to choose a " lucky " spot for the first foot- 
step. If a person slip or fall when going out to pay 
ceremonial visits on New Year's Day, it is believed 
that he will bring disaster on his own family as well 
as on the families visited. For the first three days of 
the year the floors of the house are left unswept. The 
idea at the root of this custom apparently is that 
anything thrown or swept out of the house will take 
the " good luck " of the house with it ; even dirty 
water and the refuse of food must remain indoors 
until the critical three days are past. New Year 
is the season of new clothes, and red is, of course, 
the colour chiefly displayed. Special care is taken 
to dress the children in the best and most brightl}^- 
coloured garments obtainable, as evil spirits hate the 
sight of such things, and will remain at a respectful 
distance. At the eaves of the roof are often hung 
hemp-stalks, which are said to bring perpetual 
advancement and long life.- The observation of the 
skies on New Year's Day is a matter of importance. 
If the wind blows from the south-east the next harvest 
will be a splendid one. If the clouds are tinged with 
red and yellow it will be moderately good ; if they are 
dark and gloomy it will be very poor. 

' " If the first person who enters a house on New Year's morning 
brings bad news, it is a sign of ill-luck for the whole of the year." — 
County Folk-lore : Lincolnshire, p. 168. 

* The knots or joints of the hemp-stalk are supposed to represent 
successive stages of advancement. 


"The Beginning of Spring" or Li ChHm is a 
movable feast, falling usually in the first moon. The 
ceremonies observed have reference to agriculture, and 
though they are chiefly official in character they are 
considered of great importance to the farming public. 
Ages ago the essential part of the proceedings was 
the slaughter of an ox, which was offered as a sacrifice 
to the god of Agriculture — generally identified with 
the legendary Emperor Shen Nung (b.c. 2838). 
Nowadays the place of the ox is taken by a cheaper 
substitute. On the eve of Li Ch'iin the local magistrate 
and his attendants go in procession to the eastern 
suburbs of the city for the purpose of ceremonially 
*' meeting the Spring." ^ Theatrical performers, singing 
as they go, and musicians with cymbals and flutes, 
follow the sedan-chairs of the officials, and after them 
are carried the Spring Ox - — not a real animal, but 
a great effigy made of stiff" paper — and a similar paper 
image of a man, known as Mang-Shcii^ who represents 
either the typical ox-driver or ploughman or the god 
of Agriculture.^ When the procession has " met the 
Spring" outside the city walls it returns to the 
magisterial yamen, and there the magistrate and his 
principal colleagues, armed with wands decorated 

• Yi/tg ch^un. The ceremonies differ from place to place in minor 
details. Tiiose here described are observed (with variations) at the 
district cities nearest to Weihaivvei — namely VVcn-teng, Jung ch'eng 
and Ning-hai. 

^ Ch^u?i Niu. 

' In Shanghai, and probably elsewhere, a real ox is still sometimes 
used, and he is led by a real child (T'at Stii) instead of a cardboard 
Mang-Shen. See the Rev. A. Box's " Shanghai Folk-lore " in \.\\g Journal 
of the Royal Asiatic Society (China Branch), vol. xxxiv. (i 901-2) 
pp. 1 16-7, and vol. xxxvi. (1905) pp. 136-7. Needless to say, no blood 
is shed nowadays, though it seems not unlikely that at one time a 
livuig child and a living ox were both offered np in sacrifice to promote 
the fertility of the crops. In Northumberland, England, it is or used 
to be a custom to hold rustic masquerades at the New Year, tiie 
players being clothed in the hides of (see County Folk-lore, 
vol. iv.). It would be interesting to know whether the Northumbrian 
custom was originally a ceremony to promote fertility. 


with strips of coloured paper, go through the form 
of prodding and beating the ox by way of " making 
him work " and giving an official impetus to agri- 
cultural labour. When this ceremony is over the 
paper ox is solemnly " sacrificed" — that is, he is com- 
mitted to the flames ; and a similar fate befalls the 
Ma)ig-Shen. Besides the paper ox, a miniature ox 
made of clay is also supposed to be provided. The 
clay ox, so far as I can ascertain, dates from 
a remote period when it was considered necessary 
that the ox-effigy which was carried in procession and 
sacrificed should for symbolical reasons be made of 
earth or clay. When paper was substituted, con- 
servatism demanded that oxen of clay should continue 
to be made as before — for show if not for use.^ 

While the images of the ox and Maug-Sheu are 
being prepared for the approaching festival, a careful 
examination under official direction is made of the 
newly-issued New Year's Almanac — the Chinese Zad- 
kiel ; and the effigies are dressed up and decorated in 
accordance with the prophecies and warnings of that 
publication. Hence the crowds of people who go out 
to watch the procession on its way to meet the Spring 
do so not only as a holiday diversion but also for the 
purpose of inspecting the colours and trappings of 
the effigies and thereby informing themselves of agri- 
cultural prospects for the ensuing year. The prog- 
nostications are founded partly on astrology, partly 
on the pa kita or mystic diagrams of the / Cliing 
(Book of Changes), and partly on calculations con- 
nected with fcng-shiii. The colours and apparel of the 
effigies correspond on an arbitrary system with the 
forecasts of the Almanac. Thus if the people see 
that the head of the ox is painted yellow, they know 
that great heat is foretold for the coming summer ; if 
it is green, there will be much sickness in the spring; 
if red, there will be a drought ; if black, there will be 

' Probably the Spring Ox is still, in some parts of China, made of 
clay only, not of paper. 


much rain; if white, there will be high winds and 
storms. The Maiig-Shai, also, is a silent prophet of 
the seasons. If he wears a hat the year will be dry ; 
if he wears no hat there will be rain ; shoes, similarl}^ 
indicate very heavy rain ; absence of shoes, drought ; 
abundance of body-clothing, great heat ; lightness of 
clothing, cold weather. Finally, a red belt on the 
Mayig-SIicn indicates much sickness and many deaths ; 
a white one, general good health. 

It will be noticed that the MaHg-S/ien, being a spirit, 
behaves in a precisely contrary manner to ordinary 
mankind, and his garments indicate exactly the oppo- 
site of what they would indicate if they were worn 
by a living man. Thus he wears heavy clothes in hot 
weather, light ones in cold weather; and as red is 
among men the colour that denotes joy and prosperity 
and white betokens grief and mourning, so the Mang- 
Shen wears red to indicate death and white to indicate 
life and health. Thus it is that naughty children who 
take delight in doing the opposite of what they are 
told to do are sometimes by their long-suffering parents 
called " little Mang-Shen " or " Pai Sui." 

The Lantern Festival ^ is assigned to the fifteenth 
day of the first month. As the Chinese year is strictly 
determined by lunations, this means of course that 
the festival occurs at the time of the first full moon 
of the year. Coloured-paper lanterns are hung at the 
doors of houses and shops and are also carried in 
procession. Above the doors of the houses are often 
hung fir-branches, betokening prosperity and especi- 
ally longevity.- The family eat little round cakes of 
glutinous rice which, being supposed to represent the 

' Shang Yiian Cht'cJi, Feast of the First Full Moon. 

■^ Cf. pp. 262 seq. From Gibbon's Decline and Fall (vol. i. p. 344) we 
know that long after the establishment of Christianity there was kept 
up, in Europe, a pagan festival at which it was customary to decorate 
the doors of houses with branches of laurel and to hang out lanterns. 
The doors of Roman houses were regarded as being under the special 
protection of the household gods. 





-n^ I' " ^* 

p. 182] 


fall moon/' may be called moon-cakes. There is no 
doubt that in remote times the fifteenth of the first 
and the fifteenth of the eighth months were devoted to 
moon-worship. A curious custom observed at the 
Lantern Festival is called the fsoit pai piug — "the 
expulsion of disease." In some localities this merely 
consists in a procession of villagers across the neigh- 
bouring bridges, the procession returning home by a 
route other than that by which they set out. The 
popular notion obviously is that sickness is caused 
by invisible beings of a malignant nature who on the 
occasion of this festival can be driven across the local 
streams and so expelled from the village.^ In other 
localities the expulsion of disease is on this occasion 
performed only by women, who do not necessarily 
cross bridges but simply walk out into the fields and 
back by a different route. Male villagers perform a 
similar ceremony on the ninth of the ninth month. 

So far as Weihaiwei is concerned the Feast of 
Lanterns may be regarded as pre-eminently the holi- 
day season for children. During several days before 
and after the fifteenth of the first, month bands of 
young village boys dress up in strange garments and 
go about by day and night acting queer little plays, 
partly in dumb-show and partly in speech, dance and 
song. Some of them wear the terrifying masks of wild 
beasts, such as lions, a few assume the white beards 
of old men, and many are attired in girls' clothing. 
The children perform their parts with great vivacity, 

' Yilan hsiao. 

* For some interesting notes on the bridge-walking customs, see 
Rev. E. Box's " Shanghai Folk-lore," in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic 
Society {Chin?i Branch), vol. xxxvi. (1905) pp. 133-4. These practices 
are not confined to China. In Korea, on the fourteenth and fifteenth 
of the first month the men and boys of Seoul walk over three particular 
bridges in succession, in order to safeguard themselves from pains 
in the legs and feet throughout the ensuing year. (See article by 
T. Walters in Folk-lore, March 1895.) For the beliefs of many races 
on the subject of the expulsion of evils in general, see Frazer's Golden 
Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. pp. 39 seq., 70 seq. 


and go through their masquerades, dances and chorus- 
singing in a manner that would do credit to the 
juvenile performers at a provincial English pantomime. 
They are, indeed, taught their parts and trained by 
their elders for some weeks before the festival. Ev^ery 
group of villages keeps a stock of masks, false beards, 
clothes and other " properties," and there are always 
adults who take pleasure in teaching the little ones 
the songs and dances which they themselves learned 
as children in bygone days. In daytime the dressed- 
up children take a prominent part in processions to 
the local temples. On such occasions many of them 
are perched on high stilts, which they manage with 
great skill. At night they carry large lighted Chinese 
lanterns and march amid music and song through the 
streets of their native village, or from one village to 
another, stopping occasionally in front of a prominent 
villager's house to act their little play or perform a 

No European who has seen a lantern-dance in a 
Shantung village can fail to be delighted. The graceful 
movements of the children, their young voices ringing 
clear in the frosty air, the astonishing dexterity with 
which they manipulate the swinging lanterns, the 
weird effect of rapidly-interchanging light and shadow 
as the gleaming paper moons thread the bewildering 
mazes of a complicated country-dance, — all these things 
combine to please the eye and charm the ear. Not 
the least interesting part of the proceedings is the 
obvious pleasure taken by the crowds of adult 
spectators in the performances of their little ones : 
for the Chinese are devoted to children. 

The next notable festival of the year is a movable 
feast known as the "Awakening of the Torpid In- 
sects," generally held early in the second month. In 

' This may be compared with the Scottish customs in connection 
with the guisers or guisards. In Shetland a torchlight procession 
sometimes formed part of the revelry. (See Folk-lore, vol. iii. [Orkney 

and Shetland], pp. 203 seq) 



p. 184] 


many villages it is customary to rise before dawn and 
cook a kind of dumpling, which as it " rises " is sup- 
posed to assist Nature in her work of awakening the 
sluggish or dormant vitality of animals and of vegeta- 
tion. The presiding deity of this festival is, naturally 
enough, the Sun, and it is to him that the dumplings 
are offered. Similar offerings are made by the Em- 
peror himself in his capacity of High Priest. It is 
believed that if on the evening of this day children 
wash their faces in a kind of soup made from a certain 
shrub (Lycium chinenscY they will never be ill and 
never grow old. This reminds us of the old English 
belief that young people will preserve their youthful 
beauty indefinitely by going into the fields before 
breakfast on the first of May and washing their faces 
in May dew.- 

On the eighth of the second month it is thought 
that by observing the direction of the wind it is 
possible to foretell whether the ensuing weather will 
be favourable or otherwise to the crops. If the wind 
comes from the south-east there v/ill be a good rainfall ; 
if it comes from the north-west there will be a drought. 

The fifteenth of the second month is known as Hiia 
CJiao, " the morning of flowers," — for it is supposed 
to be the flowers' birthday.^ 

The festival of Cold Food {Han ShiJi) — so called 
because it was once customary to partake of no hot 
provisions on this day and to light no fire — occurs 
on the eve of the Ch'ing-Ming festival. The Chinese 
in Weihaiwei have no clear idea why cold food was 

' For remarks on the supposed remarkable properties of this shrub, 
see De Groot's Religious System of China, vol. iv. p. 320. 

* See County Folk-lore, vol. iv. (Northumberland) p. 73. 

* In different parts of the Empire the date is variously assigned to 
the second, tenth, twelfth and fifteenth of the month. For Shanghai 
customs in connection with this festival, see Rev. A. Box, Journal of 
the R.A.S. (China), vol. xxxiv. p. 117 and vol. xxxvi. pp. 137-8. In 
that part of China "the women and children adorn the flowering shrubs 
with paper rosettes, and recite verses and prostrate themselves in token 
of respect and in hope of a fruitful season." 


compulsory on this occasion, but the custom is un- 
doubtedly connected with the ancient rite, once 
prevalent in many parts of the world, of kindling 
" new fire " once a year. The Chinese Han Shili would 
thus represent an intervening day between the extinc- 
tion of the old fire and the lighting of the new. The 
custom seems to be connected with sun-worship. 
" The solar rite of the New Fire," says Dr. Tylor, 
" adopted by the Roman Church as a paschal cere- 
mony, may still be witnessed in Europe, with its 
solemn curfew on Easter Eve and the ceremonial 
striking of the new holy fire." ' Another writer 
observes that '* formerly throughout England the 
house-fires were allowed to go out on Easter Sunday, 
after which the chimney and fireplace were completely 
cleaned and the fire once more lighted."^ It is curious 
to note that similar observances took place even on 
the American continent. " In Peru, as in Mexico," 
says a writer on the religious systems of ancient 
America,^ " there was a solemn religious ceremony 
of renewing at stated periods, by special generation, 
the fire used in the temples and even in the house- 
holds. ... It is one of the oldest rites of the human 
race, and it has survived under all religions alike 
down to the other day, when perhaps it received its 
death-blow from the lucifer match." 

The Ch'ing-Ming or " Pure and Bright " festival 
is as carefully observed at Weihaiwei as elsewhere 
throughout China. It is a movable feast generally 
occurring early in the third Chinese month.* Edible 
delicacies of various kinds are diligently prepared 
in every household and taken to the family graveyard 

' Tylor's Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. pp. 277-8, 290 seq., 297 
seq., and p. 432. See also Frazer's Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. 
p. 251. 

* Gomme's Folk-lore Relics of Early Village Life, p. 97. 

' J. M. Robertson in Religious Systems of the IVorld {8th ed.),p, 369. 

* In 1910 it falls on April 6, which is the 27th of the second Chinese 


to be sacrificially offered to the ancestral spirits. At 
this season, and at the corresponding festival held 
on the first day of the tenth month, all the members 
of the family who can attend prostrate themselves on 
the ground in front of their ancestors' graves.^ These 
observances are known as slia}ig fen — " going up to 
the tombs." '^ This is one of the occasions on which 
family reunions take place. It is a holiday season 
and there is plenty of jollity and feasting; but the 
sacrifices and the " sweeping of tombs" are regarded 
as sacred duties, the omission of which through 
negligence would show a discreditable lack of filial 
piety and might entail misfortune on the present and 
future generations of the family. The virtues of 
obedience and submission to authority are also em- 
phasised at this season in the village schools, v/here 
the pupils formally salute their teachers. An old 
custom sometimes observed at this time is the wearing 
of willow-leaves on the head. This is supposed to 
produce good weather for agriculture. This practice is 
not so common in Weihaiwei as in Shansi and some 
parts of Chihli and Honan, where in seasons of 
drought — only too common in those parts — men and 
boys go about for many days wearing on their heads 
wreaths made of fresh willow-branches. The willow 
is a tree that loves water and the banks of rivers, 
and willow-wreaths are therefore regarded as rain- 

In the third month comes the festival of Corn-rain 
{Kii Yi'i). This is the appropriate time for obtaining 
written charms as antidotes against snakes and grubs 
and venomous or destructive reptiles and insects in 

The so-called Dragon Festival ^ is held on the fifth 
day of the fifth month. This is the occasion on which 

' See illustration. * See p 257. 

' Instances of similar rain-charms may be found in Frazer's Golden 
Bough (2nd ed.), vol. i. pp. 188-9. 
* Tuan Wu or Tuan Va?ig. 


the well-known dragon-boat races take place at Canton 
and elsewhere in south China. According to tradition, 
the festival was inaugurated in memory of a high- 
minded statesman and poet named Ch'ii Yuan of the 
Ch'u State (south of the Yangtse) who was driven to 
commit suicide in the fourth century b.c. It is with 
the simulated object of recovering his body that tiie 
dragon-boats — so named from their length and peculiar 
shape — annually dash through the waters of the 
southern rivers. But there are no boat-races of this 
kind at Weihaiwei. Little cakes called tsiuior-tzn — 
made of rice or millet with a morsel of fruit or 
sweetmeat inside — are eaten by the people ; but there 
seems to be no local knowledge of the fact that these 
cakes were originally intended as sacrifices to Ch'u 
Yuan and ought to be thrown into flowing water as 
offerings to his spirit. 

The fifth month is regarded as the most *' poisonous " 
of all the months in the year, and antidotes and charms 
of all kinds are necessary to repel the deadly influences 
that assail suffering humanity at this period. Children 
are protected from the many dangers that surround 
them by tying bands of parti-coloured silk threads 
round their fore-arms. Among the most efficacious 
family-charms is the mugwort plant {Artemisia nioxa), 
which is hung over every doorway. Prof, Giles cites 
an old saying to the effect that " if on the Tiian JVu 
festival one does not hang up mugwort, one will not 
eat any new wheat " ; and explains it by the comment 
that a famous rebel named Huang Ch'ao gave orders 
to his soldiers to spare any family that exhibited this 
plant at its door. But the superstitious use of mug- 
wort is far more ancient than an}^ such story would 
imply. Its extreme antiquity is shown by the fact 
that this plant has been similarly used as a valued 
charm against evil in other parts of the world, 
including France, Germany and Britain,' The custom 

' See Frazer's Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. pp. 268, 270, 274 and 
especially pp. 337-8, See also Folk-lore Journal, vol. iii. p, 148. 


in such lands was to pluck the plant at the summer 
solstice (Midsummer Day) and to wear it on the person 
or (as in China) to hang it over the doorway. This 
is only one of innumerable examples of the strange 
unity that seems to underlie old popular customs and 
superstitions all the world over. 

In spite of the terrible potency of the evil things 
rampant during the fifth month, it is supposed in 
Weihaiwei that from sunrise to sunset on the fifth 
of the month (the festival we are now considering) 
all poisonous and destructive influences — material and 
spiritual — totally disappear, perhaps owing to the 
efficacy of the charms universally used against them 
on that day. It is believed that even poisonous plants 
are absolutely innocuous if plucked and eaten on the 
fifth of the fifth moon, while medicinal herbs attain 
their supreme degree of efficacy. 

A well-known custom is to rise early and walk 

exactly one hundred paces into a grass-field without 

turning the head ; then to pluck one hundred blades 

of grass, which must be carefully taken home. The 

grass is put into a pot of water and thoroughly boiled. 

The water — into which all the virtues of the grass 

are now supposed to have passed — is poured through 

a strainer into a second vessel, and the grass-blades 

are thrown away. A second boiling now takes place, 

and the liquid is poured into a bottle and kept for 

use as required. It is believed to be a sovereign 

remedy for headaches, small wounds and bruises, and 

various nervous disorders. The Chinese know it as 

pai ts'ao kao—^' hundred-grass lotion." The wise men 

who hand down this valuable recipe from generation 

to generation are careful to explain that the medicine 

will be of no avail whatever if any of the prescribed 

conditions have been neglected. It is absolutely 

necessary to walk neither more nor less than one 

hundred paces, to pluck neither more nor less than 

one hundred blades of grass, and to boil and strain 

the water in the manner laid down. Above all, every- 


thing must be done on the fifth day of the fifth month, 
as it is onl}'' on that day that ordinary grass possesses 
ling — spiritual or health-giving properties! 

The seventh day of the seventh month is celebrated 
throughout China in connection with a love-story to 
which allusion is constantly made in Chinese litera- 
ture. It is said that the Herd-bo}^ (the star yQy 
Aquila) and the Spinning Maiden (a Lyra), separated 
throughout the rest of the year by the Milky Wa3^, 
are allowed to cross a mystic bridge made by magpies, 
and to meet and embrace each other on that night 
only. In Weihaiwei, where there are large numbers of 
magpies, it is said that not one of these birds will ever 
be seen on this day until after the hour of noon : all 
having gone up to the skies to perform the duty of 
making a bridge for the celestial lovers. The day 
is regarded as one of good omen and suitable for 
fortune-telling and the drawing of lots. 

On the preceding evening (the sixth of the month) 
boys and girls put bowls of water on the window-sill 
and leave them standing all night. In the morning 
each child picks a bristle from an ordinary broom ' and 
places it carefully on the surface of the water. The 
shadow made in the water by the bristle is supposed 
to indicate the child's future lot in life. If, for instance, 
the shadow seems to take the shape of a Chinese 
brush-pen, the boy will become a great scholar ; if it 
is shaped like a plough he will remain in the condition 
of a peasant or farmer. I have been told of a child 
who saw in the water the form of a fish. This was 
interpreted to be a niii yil or the " wooden fish " of 
Buddhist temples — a queer hollow instrument of wood 
that lies on every Buddhist altar in China and is 
tapped by the monks while reciting their pra3^ers. 
The wise men of the neighbourhood foretold, there- 

' There is supposed to be some magic efficacy attached to brooms, 
and evil spirits are believed to have a special dread of them. In 
Europe, as every one knows, a witch must have her broomstick just as 
she must have her black cat. 


fore, that the boy was destined to become a monk. 
The prophecy was a true one, for subsequently of 
his own accord he entered " the homeless state." 

Another children's amusement on this occasion is 
to catch a spider and put it under an inverted bowl. 
If, when the bowl is turned up, the spider is found 
to have spun a web, the child and his parents are 
overjoyed : for it is supposed that good fortune will 
adhere to him throughout the ensuing year just as 
a captured fly adheres to a spider's web. 

On the fifteenth of the seventh month sacrifices 
are again offered to the dead. This is a " Festival 
of Souls." 1 

On the first of the eighth month it is customary to 
collect some dew and use it for moistening a little 
ink." This ink is devoted to the purpose of making 
little dots or marks on children's foreheads, and this, 
it is supposed, will preserve them from sickness. 

On the mid-autumn festival ^ of the fifteenth of the 
eighth month reverence is paid to the ruler of the 
night. Offerings of cake, wine and fruit are made to 
the full moon and then consumed by the worshippers.* 
The occasion is one of family gatherings and festal 

On the Ch'ung Yang festival of the ninth day of 
the ninth month it used to be the custom in many 
parts of China to eat specially-prepared flour-cakes 
called kao'" and to drink wine made of the chry- 

' Kuei Cliie/i. 

- The so-called Indian ink ordinarily used by Chinese. 

' The ordinary Chinese name is Chmig Yuan, a reference being 
understood to the Shanjr Yuan, or the fifteenth of the first month, and 
the Hsia Yilan or the fifteenth of the tenth. 

* Cf. the offerings to Ashtoreth the Moon-goddess of the Hittites. 
For mention of similar offerings in England itself, see Dennys's Folk- 
lore of China, p. 28. 

" There is a play on this Chinese word, which has the same sound 
as a different character meaning fo go up or to receive protnotion. He 
who eats the cake is supposed to be securing his own advancement 
in life. There is a similar double-meaning in the phrase feng kao. 


santhemum. The cakes are still made and eaten in 
Weihaiwei, but the chrysanthemum wine appears to 
be obsolete.' On this day it is customary for young 
men (especially those of the lettered classes) to climb 
to the top (fi'iin^ kao) of one of the hills of their 
neighbourhood. The advantages are two in number : 
it will lead to the promotion of those who are engaged 
in climbing the steep slopes of an official career, and 
it will free them for the ensuing year from all danger 
of sickness. This is equivalent to the tsou pal ping 
of the women on the fifteenth of the first month. 

On the first day of the tenth month the family 
tombs are visited, and the same ceremonies observed 
as at the Ch'ing-Ming festival. This is one of the 
three days in the year that are regarded as specially 
sacred to the souls of the departed {Knci Cliicli or 
Festivals of Souls or Spirits) : the Ch'ing-Ming (mov- 
able) in or about the third month, and the fixed 
festivals of the fifteenth of the seventh and the first 
of the tenth months. Similarly there are three fes- 
tivals specially provided for the living {Jen Chieh or 
Festivals of Men), and these are marked by feasting 
and merriment ; they are the New Year festival, the 
fifth of the fifth and the fifteenth of the eighth months. 
The former list does not, however, exhaust the oc- 
casions on which reverence is paid to ancestors. 
At the winter solstice,'^ for instance, ancestral sacri- 
fices are offered in the family temples ; and at the 
New Year, as we have seen, the living do not forget, 
in the midst of their own pleasures, the sacred duties 
owed to the souls of the dead. 

On the eighth of the twelfth month it is customary 
for matrons to regale their families with a concoction 
made of grain, vegetables and water called La-pa-chou, 
which means " gruel for the eighth of the sacrificial 
month." Children are made to partake of an un- 

'■ ' For remarks on the ancient custom of drinking this wine, see De 
Groot, Religious Systc7>t of C/iitia, vol. iv. p. 322. 
^ See p. 277. 


savoury cake made of buckwheat, hare's blood, sul- 
phur, cinnabar and tea-leaves. This, it is believed, 
will protect young people from smallpox — a some- 
what prevalent disease among the native children of 

In the evening of the twenty-third of the twelfth 
month an important family ceremony takes place known 
as tz*u tsao or siuig tsao — " Taking farewell of the 
Hearth-god." The hearth-god or kitchen-god {tsao sJien) 
is a Taoist divinity who is supposed to dwell near the 
kitchen fireplace of every family,' and whose business 
it is to watch the doings of every member of the 
family from day to day with a view to reporting them 
in detail at the close of the year to the Taoist Supreme 
Deity. In order to make his annual report he is sup- 
posed to leave the kitchen on the twenty-third of the 
last month of the year, and ascend to heaven. Before 
he goes, obeisance is made to him by the family, and 
he is presented with small round sugared cakes called 
i*ang kua and lumps of no nii^ a glutinous rice. The 
object of providing the god with these dainties is to 
make his lips stick together so that he will be unable 
to open his mouth and make his report. The family 
is thus saved from any inconvenient results arising 
from an enumeration of its misdeeds. Needless to 
say, the matter is not regarded very seriously in most 
households, and the ceremonies are chiefly kept up 
as a source of amusement for children, who receive 
their full share of the sticky cakes. After a sojourn 
of a week in heaven the hearth-god returns to his own 
fireside on New Year's Eve. 

On the twenty-fourth of the month every house is 
thoroughly swept out in preparation for the New 

' There is some reason to believe that the Hearth-god was once 
regarded as an anonymous ancestor of the family, though nowadays 
this relationship is ignored. The Chinese Tsao shcn may be compared 
with the Japanese Kojin. For some valuable notes on Hearth-worship 
in general, see Gomme's Folk-lore Relics of Early Village Life, 
pp. Zyseq. The cult of a hearth-god has been known in western 
Europe and also in New Zealand. 



Year's festivities. The object of this ceremony is not 
merely the practical and necessary one of cleanliness : 
the sweeping process will, it is believed, rid the house 
of all malign influences that may have collected there 
during the past year, and thereby render it fit for 
the reception of every kind of joy and good luck. 
This is an auspicious day for the celebration of 

New Year's Eve {Ch^u Jisi) marks the beginning of 
the Chinese holiday season, and is a day of mirth and 
feasting. In many families it is the custom to sit 
up all night ; the phrase shou sin has practically the 
same signification as our " seeing the Old Year out 
and the New Year in." In the evening, new red 
scrolls, such as adorn the outside and inside of nearly 
every Chinese house, are pasted over the old ones that 
have now become faded or illegible. The brilliant 
colour of these scrolls and the felicitous phrases, 
virtuous maxims and wise literary allusions with 
which they abound are regarded by the common 
people (who can rarely read them) as equivalent to 
powerful charms that will bring happiness and good 
fortune to all who dwell beneath the shadow of their 
influence. Fire-crackers, the delight of old and young 
in China, are let off* at every door-step, helping at 
each explosion to dissipate any traces of bad luck 
that may be lingering in the neighbourhood and to 
frighten away the last malignant spirit who might 
otherwise mar the happiness of the New Year. 



The reader who has already learned from an earlier 
chapter of this book how frequently women figure in 
the law-courts, will perhaps be prepared for a not 
too flattering description of Chinese womankind as 
represented in the leased Territory. If the litigious 
and quarrelsome females were typical specimens of 
their sex it would indeed be difficult to utter a word 
of truthful praise for the women of Weihaiwei. But 
it is only fair to remember that it is just the turbulent 
and masterful females that chiefly come within a 
British magistrate's range of experience. Chaste and 
filial daughters, gentle and companionable wives, 
brave and devoted mothers, bring happiness to mul- 
titudes of cottage homes and are to be found in every 
village; but they seldom come under the official 
notice of the authorities. 

Women in Weihaiwei are, indeed, ignorant of 
nearly everything that is generally implied by edu- 
cation ; they are handicapped from childhood by 
the thoroughly bad old custom of foot-binding ; they 
know nothing of the world beyond the limits of 
their own group of villages : yet the lives they lead 
are probably, as a rule, happy, honourable and use- 
ful. The Chinese suppose that a woman's proper 
sphere is the management of the household affairs 
and the upbringing of her children : and Chinese 



women seem as a rule to acquiesce willingly and 
cheerfully in their lot as thus defined. 

The woman's position as wife and mother is a highly 
honourable one : filial piety — the cardinal Chinese 
virtue — is owed to the mother as much as to the 
father, and the usual sacrificial rites are conducted 
in honour of the maternal as well as the paternal 
ancestors of the family. From prehistoric times the 
dignity of the mother has been regarded in China 
as hardly inferior to that of the father/ subject of 
course to the father's headship of the family. It 
would be a great mistake to suppose that Chinese 
women are brutally or tyrannically treated by their 
husbands. That cases of ill-treatment of women are 
sometimes met with is undoubted, but as a rule the 
tyrant is not the husband but some female member 
of the husband's family. Mothers-in-law are the 
domestic tyrants of rural China. Besides treating 
the wife with severity they often place the husband 
in a most unhappy dilemma. 

If he wishes, as he often does, to protect his wife 
from the elder lady's violence or bad temper he runs 
the risk of being denounced to the neighbours — and 
perhaps to the local magistrate — as an unfilial son ; if 
he weakly and reluctantly takes his mother's side in a 
domestic disagreement, or if — as is much more fre- 
quently the case — he pretends to shut his eyes alto- 
gether to the quarrels of his women-folk, the wife of 
his bosom may in a moment of anger or despair run 
away from him or commit suicide. The only source 
of comfort to a young wife who is unfortunate enough 
to displease her husband's mother is that some day, 
in the course of nature, she herself will be in the proud 
position of a mother-in-law. If she is of a cantanker- 
ous or tyrannical disposition, or if her temper has 
been soured by her own domestic troubles, she will 
then doubtless treat her son's wife with just as little 
kindness as she received in her own early days of 

* Just the same was the theory of the old Sumerian law. 


wifenood, and her daughter-in-law will fear and dislike 
her just as she herself feared and disliked her own 
husband's mother. Fortunately there are good and 
benevolent mothers-in-law in Weihaiwei as well as 
bad ones : and it is only fair to add that it is not 
always the wife who is meek and submissive and the 
mother-in-law who wields the iron rod. Sometimes a 
high-spirited and obstinate young woman will become 
absolute ruler of the household — including her husband 
and his parents — before she has lived a month in her 
new home, though her tenure of authority' will always 
be somewhat precarious until she has given birth to 
her first son. " Why do you run away from a 
woman?" I once asked an unhappy husband whose 
domestic troubles had driven him to the courts. " Is 
she not your wife, and can you not make her obey 
you ? " The young man's features broadened into a 
somewhat mirthless smile as he replied, " I am afraid 
of her. Eight men out of ten are afraid of their 

Women, indeed, are at the root of a large pro- 
portion of the cases heard in the courts. No insig- 
nificant part of the dut}^ of a magistrate in Weihaiwei 
consists in the taming of village shrews. The number 
of such women in China is much larger than might 
be supposed by many Europeans, who regard the 
average Chinese wife as the patient slave of a 
tyrannical master. The fact is that Chinese women, 
in spite of their compressed feet and mincing gait, 
rule their households quite as effectually as women 
do in countries further west, and in the lower classes 
they frequently extend the sphere of their masterful 
activity to their neighbours' houses as well. The 
result is not alwa37s conducive to harmony. " For 
ther-as the womman hath the maistrie," wrote one 
of the keenest students of human nature many cen- 
turies ago, " she maketh to muche desray ; ther neden 
none ensamples of this. The experience of day by 
day oghte suffyse." This is a statement that multi- 


tudes of woebegone husbands in Weihaiwei, were 
they readers of Chaucer, would readily endorse. 

The abject terror with which an uncompromising 
village shrew is regarded by her male relatives and 
neighbours frequently creates situations which would 
be somewhat ludicrous if they did not contain an 
element of pathos. It is only when his women-folk 
make life insupportable that an afflicted villager takes 
the step of appealing for magisterial intervention : but 
the fact that such cases frequently occur seems to 
indicate that domestic infelicities of a minor order 
must be very common. " Two months ago," wrote a 
petitioner, " I bought a piece of land in a neighbour- 
ing village, with the intention of building a house 
on it. Unfortunately, after the purchase was com- 
pleted I made the discovery that my immediate neigh- 
bour was the most riotous female in the whole village. 
This was a very annoying circumstance to me. How- 
ever I proceeded to build my house in a lawful and 
unostentatious manner and hoped I should have 
no trouble. All went well until one day when the 
female issued from her house and proceeded to pull 
my new walls to pieces on the plea that they inter- 
fered with the good luck {fc}ig-shni) of her own 
habitation. I stood by and requested her in the 
kindest manner to leave me and my house alone. 
She repaid me with the most violent abuse. How 
could I venture to hurl myself against the spears of 
the enemy ? She is the terror of the whole village 
and her husband dares not interfere with her. I am 
sorry I ever bought the land, and I had no idea she 
was to be my neighbour or I should not have done so. 
I bought a charm to protect me against violent females, 
and stuck it up on the doorway of my new house, but 
it does not seem to have worked very well, and it has 
not frightened her at all. Meanwhile my house is 
standing in ruins, and I have no remedy unless the 
Magistrate, who loves the people as if they were his 
children, will come to the rescue," 


This case was settled easily enough. Another bristled 
with difficulties owing to the fact that the plaintiff, 
in his petition, avoided any mention whatsoever of his 
real ground of complaint. " I have fifty mu of land 
[about eight acres]. I have two sons, the elder Ta- 
chij, the younger Erh-chii. In the second moon of this 
year they set up separate establishments^ and entered 
upon possession of the ancestral lands. I was at that 
time in mourning for my wife, and beyond my yang- 
lao-ti^ had no means of support for my old age. After 
they had left me, what with the expenses of my wife's 
funeral and my own personal requirements I found m}''- 
self in debt to the extent of sixty tiao [approximately 
equivalent to six pounds sterling]. My two sons 
would not pay my debts : on the contrary they drove 
me out of my own house and refused to give me food. 
I am hungry and in hardship. My elder son, Ta-chii, 
at last relented and wanted to do something for me, 
but he was knocked down by Erh-chu and is confined 
to bed. I have reasoned with Erh-chii about his evil 
courses, but every time I do so he only beats me. 
The whole village is disgusted with his treatment of 
me but dares not interfere. Now I get wet through 
when it rains and I have to beg for a living. There is 
no rest for me. My lot has fallen in hard places. This 
son of mine is no better than a hsiao ching} Is this the 
way to preserve the sacred human relationships ?" 

In this circumstantial petition no word of complaint 
is made against the real offender — the petitioner's 
second son's wife, who, as I soon ascertained, was 
a shrew of the worst order. To bring the action 
nominally against his second son was a clever device 
on the part of the petitioner, for no Chinese magistrate 
dare — except in almost unheard-of circumstances — 
take the word of a son against his own father, and 
an unfilial son is one of the worst of criminals. The 

' See pp. 149 seq. ' Ibid. 

* A bird that pecks at its parent's eyes as goop 39 it i^ fledged and 
so is an example of jjnfiJial conducj. 


old man presumed, therefore, that the case would be 
at once decided in his favour, and that his son would 
be imprisoned. His son's wife, the shrew, would 
then have been compelled to make reparation for 
her former misconduct and undertake to become a 
reformed character. When she had done this the 
old man would return to the magistrate and obtain 
her husband's release. As it happened, the process 
was not so circuitous as this, for the woman's mis- 
deeds were discovered by the independent action ot 
the court, and it was she, not her husband, who was 
sent to gaol. She was released as soon as her own 
father's family had come forward and entered — very 
reluctantly — into a bond to guarantee her future good 

It must be remembered that as soon as a woman 
has left her father's roof and passes under the care 
of her husband — or rather of her husband's parents, 
if they are still alive — her father's family have no 
longer any legal control over her. Her husband's 
father and brothers become to all intents and pur- 
poses her own father and brothers : and to her father- 
in-law she owes the complete obedience that before 
marriage she owed to her father. She has in fact 
changed her family. Yet if she prove "unfilial" — 
that is, disobedient to her husband's family — a magis- 
trate may call upon her father's family to go security 
for her future good conduct, on the ground that her 
unfilial behaviour must be due to her bad bringing-up, 
for which her father's family is responsible. 

An English historian once pointed out that when 
two men sit on the same horse both of them cannot 
ride in front at the same time. The reference was to 
politics, the intimation being that there cannot be two 
co-ordinate controlling powers in the active govern- 
ment of the State : but the remark applies equally well 
to family life. If Crown and Parliament (or two 
separate Houses of Parliament) cannot have co-equal 
powers in the body-politic, neither can a man and 


a woman have co-equal powers in the body-domestic : 
as there must be a supreme authority in the State, 
so there must be a supreme authority in the Family. 
Such used to be the theory of Englishmen, and such 
is still the theory of the Chinese. They have a proverb 
which recalls Gardiner's criticism of Clarendon's con- 
stitutional ideal. The Chinese say: "One horse cannot 
carry two saddles ; the loyal servant cannot serve 
two masters." ^ But though in China the husband is 
legall}'- possessed of very extensive powers over his 
wife and has every right to administer corporal 
punishment if she disobeys him or fails to treat his 
parents with proper respect, it is ver}'^ rarely indeed 
that one hears of such powers being exercised in 
Weihaiwei.' No Chinese husband within my ex- 
perience at Weihaiwei has ever been convicted of 
wife-beating : whereas the physical castigation of 
husbands by wives is by no means unheard of. 

The northern Chinese use a curious and highly 
appropriate expression to describe a woman of the 
shrew type. They call her a ma-chieh-ti or " Curse- 
the-street woman." This is the kind of female who 
by blows or threats drives her husband out of the 
house, follows him into the road, and there — if he 
has sought safety in flight — proceeds to pour torrents 
of abuse at the top of her voice upon her male and 
female neighbours and all and sundry passers-by. 
If the village street happens to be entirely empty she 
will address her remarks to the papered windows, on 
the chance of there being listeners behind them. As a 
rule the neighbours will come out to " see the fun." 
The abused persons generally refrain from repartee, 
and the men — taking care to keep out of reach of 

' / ma pu pei shuang an ; Chtmg ch'cn pu shih erh chu, 
' In some other parts of the Empire things are apparently verydifferent. 
The Rev. J. Macgovvan writes very strongly on the subject in his Side- 
lights on Chinese Life, pp. 32 seq. But I cannot believe that " sijcty per 
cent, of the husbands throughout the Empire " practise wife-beating 
'' habitually " (p. 35). 


the nails of the ma-chieh-ti — gaze at her pensively 
and with impassive features until her spent voice 
fades into a hoarse whisper or physical exhaustion 
lays her helpless on the ground. But some quarrel- 
some female neighbour — herself no mean mistress of 
words — will often delight in advancing to a contest 
which is almost sure to end in bleeding faces and 
torn clothes. Then husbands and grandfathers are 
reluctantly compelled to intervene, and "peace-talkers" 
will help to coax the two infuriated combatants into 
calmness. If their efforts are unavailing, the result 
may be either a suicide or a lawsuit. 

Women of this type feel themselves at home in the 
courts, and a fit of anger will often send them hobbling 
off to the magistrate with some trumpery and usually 
false accusation against a relation or a neighbour. 
Such was a case brought by one Liu Hsia Shih against 
a harmless old man whose real offence was that he 
had recommended her to look after her babies instead 
of " cursing the street." I despatched a constable to 
make enquiries into the matter, and she promptly 
handed him the princely sum of one dollar with the 
suggestion that he should give me a report favourable 
to herself. In accordance with very strict regulations 
relating to bribery, the constable paid the money into 
court. I summoned the parties to the suit, rebuked 
the female for attempted bribery, and in dismissing 
her frivolous action adjudged the dollar to her adver- 
sary. Probably the fact that he had got her money 
was in her view even more exasperating than the 
loss of her case. 

Very frequently a ma-chieh-ti who brings her 
imagined wrongs to court will point to wounds and 
scratches on her face and body as evidence that she 
has been assaulted : whereas the injuries have been 
in all probability self-inflicted. One Liang Wang Shih 
brought complaints of ill-treatment against her adopted 
grandson and his wife. " They behave in a most cruel 
manner/' she said. " He incites her to bite me. She 


bites my shoulder." She then proceeded partially to 
disrobe herself in order that the supposed marks of 
her grand-daughter's teeth might be inspected by the 
court. Another querulous woman forcibly prevented 
a neighbour from putting a wall round his own 
vegetable-garden. " I recently built a new house/' 
explained her unfortunate neighbour. " This woman's 
grandson died soon afterwards, and she declares that 
it was my new house that killed him, by spoiling the 
/eug-s/i II i of her family. She says she will not let me 
build my garden-wall until I restore her grandson to 
life. " 

The marriage customs of Weihaiwei being in principle 
identical with those prevailing in other parts of China, 
a detailed description of them would be out of place 
here. It will be sufficient to say that nearly every one 
gets married a few years after arrival at a marriageable 
age, the bridegroom being as a rule rather older than 
the bride. The majority of marriages are the outcome 
of long-standing betrothals. A betrothal is in practice 
as binding as a marriage ; indeed, a betrothal that took 
place in the babyhood of both the principals may, 
in certain circumstances, be regarded as an actual 
marriage. If, for example, the youth dies when of 
marriageable age but before the marriage has taken 
place, and if he was at the same time an only son, 
the betrothed girl (whom he may or may not have 
seen) will often be recognised as his legal wife ; and 
if she preserves her " widowhood " with fidelity her 
name will appear beside his own on the tombstone 
and in the family registers. If the girl declares at the 
death of her betrothed that she is willing to be 
regarded as his widow, it then becomes possible (in 
accordance with an old and very curious custom) for 
the dead youth and his living wife to be provided with 
a *' son " by adoption, and this " son " — who will 
probably be a young nephew — nominally acts as 
principal mourner at the funeral, inherits the deceased's 
share of the family property, and carries on the rjtes 


of ancestral worship. If the girl or her family decline 
(as very naturally they usually do) to recognise the 
betrothal contract as binding after the bridegroom's 
death, the parents of the dead youth will proceed to 
find him a bride in the person of a dead girl. This 
girl must have died unmarried and should be of 
suitable age and family : that is to say, a youth and 
maiden who could not have been betrothed to each 
other in life should not be joined in matrimon}'- after 

The arrangements for a wedding of this extraordinary 
nature are not carried out directly by the parents of the 
dead boy and girl, but through middlemen appointed by 
them (known as kuci nici or "ghostly go-betweens"), and 
many of the other formalities which attend an ordinary 
marriage are observed with scrupulous care. If the 
girl has already been buried in the graveyard of her 
own family her body is exhumed and reburied beside 
that of the dead bridegroom : and on the tombstone 
erected at the foot of the grave are duly carved their 
two names as those of husband and wife. The custom 
is extremely old : it is mentioned in the Clioii Li, a 
book which deals with the laws and customs of China 
from the twelfth century b.c. onwards. Its origin may 
perhaps be traced to the same notions that lay at the 
root of the widely-prevalent Oriental custom of widow 
immolation or sati\ the theory being that the sacrifice 
of widows and slaves at the tomb of a dead man 
provided him in the comfortless world of shades with 
the companionship to which he had been accustomed , 
in life. But this strange system of weddings between ' 
the dead is practised to-day in Weihaiwei only in - 
order to secure the perpetuation of the sacrificial rites I 
connected with the ancestral cult and to bring about 
a suitable partition of the family property. 

If a youth dies unmarried and is an only son, the 
necessary consequence would appear to be the ex- 

• Mere disparity of age, however, is not regarded as an insuperable 
objection to a "dead marriage." 


tinction of the family or the particular branch which 
the deceased represented. To prevent the occurrence 
of such a calamity it is necessary in China to provide 
the deceased with a son by formal adoption. But the 
matter-of-fact Chinese mind declines to contemplate 
the possibility of adopting a son for one who, being 
a bachelor, was not in a position to have a legitimate 
heir in the ordinary process of nature. It is therefore 
necessary to begin by providing him with a wife ; 
and this is done by the peculiar arrangement just 
described, known locally as ka (or cliieli) ssn cU'ln— 
the " celebration of a dead marriage." As a rule it is 
not difficult for parents to find a suitable wife for their 
dead son, for the family of a girl who has died un- 
married will always be glad to have their deceased 
daughter raised to the honourable status of a married 
woman. Sometimes, hov/ever, complicating circum- 
stances arise. A man named Yu Huai-yueh died, 
without children and unmarried, in the tenth year of 
Kuang Hsu — corresponding to 1884. At that time he 
had brothers living, and as the family was in no 
danger of extinction it was not considered necessary 
to take further action. During subsequent years the 
brothers also died without issue, and the sorrowing 
relatives of the family decided in 1897 that Yil Huai- 
yiieh should at last be provided with a wife. In due 
time it was reported by "ghostly go-betweens" that 
a bride with a suitable horoscope was to be found 
in the family of Hsia of the neighbouring village of 
Chao Chia. This was a girl who had died as long ago 
as 1876. In spite of the disparity of the dates of death 
the ceremony was duly performed : thus a bride who 
had been in her grave for more than a generation 
was wedded to a bridegroom who died thirteen years 
before his own marriage. 

In ordinary cases the repudiation of a betrothal 
contract while the principals are both living is by law 
and custom visited by heavy penalties. Paradoxical 
as the statement may appear, it is often easier in 


China to get rid of a wife after the marriage ceremony 
has taken place than to jilt her during the period of 
betrothal. There is little or no romance about a 
Chinese engagement. The parents of bride and bride- 
groom may or may not be known to each other ; as 
a rule they are strangers, for a girl is rarely married 
to a resident in her own village. The reasons for this 
are not far to seek. As we have seen, a typical 
Weihaiwei village is composed of persons of one 
surname. The " prohibited degrees " in China are far 
more comprehensive than those set forth in the 
English Book of Common Prayer. All persons of the 
same surname are regarded as blood relations, and as 
such they cannot intermarry. The father of a family 
must therefore find husbands and wives for his 
children in some village other than his own. In 
accordance with venerable custom, regular marriages 
are negotiated neither by the parties chiefly con- 
cerned nor by their parents. Betrothals are always 
in practice arranged through go-betweens or middle- 
men {»iei Jen) who are understood to be the dis- 
interested friends of both the contracting parties. In 
return for their services they receive various little 
presents and welcome invitations to sundry little 

It is often declared that in China the bridegroom 
never has a chance of seeing his bride or making her 
acquaintance until the fateful moment when she raises 
her bridal veil : and many are the sad stories told of 
the bitter disappointment of the girl who unexpectedly 
finds that her husband is a decrepit old man, or the 
ardent young bridegroom who suddenly realises that 
he is lord of an ugly or sour-faced wife instead of the 
dainty beauty described by the deceitful go-between. 

' The custom of employing go-betweens is by no means exclusively 
Chinese. It may be met with among races so far away as certain of 
the tribes of British Columbia. (See Hill Tout's British North America, 
p. i86.) For an ancient reference to the Chinese custom, see Shih 
Ching, p. 157 (Legge). 








But such regrettable incidents are rare in rural China. 
It is true that marriage is hardly ever preceded by 
love-making, and that young people have as a rule 
absolutely no say in the important matter of the 
choice of a husband. Yet the women of the farm- 
ing classes in a rural district such as Weihaiwei are 
by no means concealed from public view ; if a young 
man does not catch a sight of his betrothed at 
some village festival or a theatrical performance he 
is sure to have many opportunities of beholding her 
at work in the fields at harvest time or washing 
clothes at the side of the local brook. Sometimes, 
indeed, the young couple grow up together in 
the same household almost like brother and sister. 
This happens when, after child-betrothal has taken 
place, the girl's parents die or are too poor to keep 
her. She then passes to the bridegroom's family and 
is theoretically supposed to be brought up as a 
daughter of the house, though sometimes she is 
treated as a mere servant or drudge. Such a girl is 
known as a fuan-yiian lisi-fu. As an orphan, or the 
daughter of poor or helpless parents, she is expected 
to cultivate a more than usually meek and respectful 
demeanour towards the parents of her betrothed, and 
to be " thankful for small mercies." When the boy's 
parents (for the boy himself has no say in the matter) 
decide that a fitting time for the marriage has arrived, 
it is customary for the girl to be sent temporarily to 
the care of some relative, where she remains until the 
wedding-day. This is in order that in accordance with 
the usual custom she may enjoy the privilege of being 
carried to her husband's home in a red marriage-chair. 
In such a case as this the bride and bridegroom are 
of course well acquainted with each other's personal 
appearance and disposition, and have good reason to 
know, before the wedding takes place, whether their 
married life is likely to be a happy one. If the 
prospects are adverse, the bridegroom-elect can only 
escape his doom by running away, for the betrothal 


cannot be repudiated. The bride, poor child, has no 
choice in the matter one way or another. 

Marriages in Weiheivvei — in spite of the optimistic 
dictum of the Chinese chronicler already quoted — are 
very often, like marriages elsewhere, negotiated in a 
mercenary spirit and with a keen eye to " business." 
The Roman cocnipiio was undoubtedly in origin a 
system of marriage by purchase ; and perhaps the 
practice if not the theory is in many Western countries 
the same to-day. In rural China the average father 
wants to procure for his son the best possible wife at 
the lowest possible cost; the girl's father wants to 
give his daughter to the family that will allow him the 
largest compensation for his own outlay. The financial 
part of the arrangements is so prominent in the minds 
of the plain-speaking peasants of Weihaiwei that they 
will talk of buying and selling their wives and 
daughters in much the same way as they would talk 
of dealing in farm produce at the neighbouring market. 
The local practice (as apart from the law of China) 
in matters concerning marriage is in some respects 
curious. " My wife has run away from me," stated a 
petitioner, " She lived with me nearly three years. I 
know where she is, but I cannot make her come back 
to me because I originally got her for nothing. She 
left me because 1 was too poor. She took away with 
her nothing that was not her own. I have no com- 
plaint to make against her." 

The people of Weihaiwei know nothing of regular 
divorce proceedings. The man whose wife deserts 
him or runs away with another man may proceed to 
take unto himself a second wife without the least fear 
of a Crown prosecution for bigamy. Under Chinese 
law a man may, indeed, regularly divorce his wife for 
a variety of offences — including rudeness to his parents 
and talkativeness — but in Weihaiwei few husbands 
avail themselves of their rights in this respect ; in the 
first place the husband is reluctant — especially if he is 
still childless — to lose the lady for whom he or his I 


parents paid a good round sum in cash, and, secondly, 
he is afraid of getting into trouble with her family, 
who will quite probably drag him before the magis- 
trate on a charge of brutal treatment of a gentle and 
long-suffering wife— their object being to " save face " 
and to extract from the husband substantial pecuniary 
compensation. If his wife's family is numerous and 
wealthy, the unhappy man who is wedded to an un- 
tamable shrew is often driven to desperate expedients 
to break his chains. He may, indeed, emigrate to 
Peking or Manchuria — the usual resorts of persons 
who find life unbearable in Weihaiwei — but this will 
only result in shifting the trouble from his own 
shoulders to those of his parents or brothers. 

Only a few days before the penning of these lines 
a man named Shih Kuan-yung came to report to me 
the mysterious death of his younger brother. " His 
wife treated him shamefully," was the story. " He 
bore it for several years, but the breaking-point came 
two days ago. He then went off to his father-in-law's 
house, and yesterday he died there." On inquiry it 
turned out that the wretched man, after an unusually 
bitter passage of words with his wife, swallowed a 
dose of poison and then went off to die in his wife's 
father's house as a protest against his wife's bad 
conduct and as a sure means of bringing trouble 
upon her relations. His brother suggested to the 
court that he, as the deceased's only surviving rela- 
tive, should be empowered to sell the widow and 
pocket the proceeds as a solace for his bereavement. 
The court refused to act upon this suggestion, but 
satisfied public opinion by imposing a moderate 
punishment on the lady's family and compelling it 
to defray all the expenses of the funeral. 

The fact that the husband in this case could think 
of no better means of punishing his wife than by 
dying on her father's doorstep shows that though a 
woman on marriage theoretically passes from one 
patria potestas to another and thenceforward belongs 



solely to her husband's family or p^o chia, her father's 
family or niaiig-chia may in certain circumstances 
retain considerable influence over her destiny as a 
married woman ; and if the family is rich and in- 
fluential it may make matters intensely disagreeable 
for the husband and his relations should the woman 
find her new home less comfortable than the old one. 
The woman whose niang-chia is poor and without 
influence (as we have seen in the case of a tuan-yiian 
hsi-fii) rarely dares to hold her head high or treat 
her p'o cilia with contempt. She knows that hence- 
forth it will be to her own interest to please her 
husband and his parents as far as in her lies, for she 
can look for no help from her father's family in the 
event of trouble. It is a terrible grief to a young 
married woman to know that her own family has 
made up its mind to take no further interest in her, 
A headman once reported to me that a woman in 
his village, recently married, had committed suicide 
simply because when the time came for her to pay the 
first ceremonial visit to her father and mother after 
her wedding, no one was sent (in accordance with the 
usual custom) from her old home to escort her thither. 
For several days she moped and moaned, her incessant 
cry being, " I have no niang-cJiia, I have no niang- 
chia " ; and one day her husband found her hanging 
dead from a peg in the wall. 

Sometimes a girl's family will evince no interest 
whatever in her doings as a married woman until 
her suicide gives them an opportunity of shov/ing that 
** blood is thicker than water." If they do not demand 
a magisterial enquiry into the cause of death they will 
at least keep a careful eye on the funeral arrange- 
ments and prevent the widower's family from carrying 
hem out with insufficient splendour or too much re- 
gard to economy. An expensive funeral on such an 
occasion is satisfactory to the dead woman's relations 
from two points of view : it reflects glory on them- 
selves and gives them "face," and it serves as a costly 


punishment for the bereaved husband who has to pay 
the bill. 

Though nearly every one in Weihaiwei, as in the 
rest of China, gets married sooner or later, it some- 
times happens that through the early death of his 
betrothed or some other unavoidable cause a man 
finds himself still unmarried at an age when his 
contemporaries are the proud parents of large families. 
The older he is the harder will it be for him to 
contract a marriage through the customary process 
of a formal betrothal. He may indeed find a widow 
who is open to receive an advantageous offer ; but 
in China it is not considered creditable or fitting for 
a widow to re-marry unless dire poverty compels her 
to do so. The model Chinese widow is expected to 
serve and cherish her late husband's parents as long 
as they live, and to devote her spare time to the 
careful upbringing of her own children. A woman's 
second marriage is not attended by the pomp and 
circumstance of the first. It is only once in her life 
that a Chinese woman is entitled to sit in the red 
chair of a bride. A common practice for an elderly 
bachelor of Weihaiwei is to entrust a friend in Peking 
or some other large centre of population with the 
task of procuring a wife for him by the simple ex- 
pedient of cash-purchase. The friend buys the woman 
and brings her back to Weihaiwei on one of his return 
visits ; and, as he will very likely have been entrusted 
with several similar commissions, he will possibly 
return with a bevy of damsels of varying charms and 
widely different ages and degrees of comeliness. He 
is not, of course, expected to go through his trouble 
for nothing ; and indeed the business is regarded as 
so lucrative that some men will secretly tout for com- 
missions to buy wives, and will go from Weihaiwei to 
Peking for that express purpose. 

The practice is, of course, highly discreditable to 
every one concerned. It is a punishable offence in 
China, and is sternly reprobated and discouraged by 


the British Government. As far as the women them- 
selves are concerned, however, the abuses that attend 
the system are less serious than might be expected. 
In most cases they are the daughters of extremely 
poor parents who cannot afford to support them. By 
becoming the wives of poor but honest and respectable 
farmers in a district like Weihaiwei, their position 
has certainly changed for the better. Most of them 
are thoroughly cognisant of this fact ; indeed, it is 
rarely that they express a desire to leave their new 
homes even when the Government offers them a free 
passage back to their native place. Their position, 
be it remembered, is not a dishonourable one. Though 
not always married according to the prescribed rites, 
they are by general consent regarded as wives, and 
their children inherit the family property as legitimate 
heirs. Sometimes, indeed, a poor girl from Peking, 
who has been led to expect that she is being taken 
to a rich young husband, feels a pang of bitter dis- 
appointment when she finds herself face to face with 
a poor and elderly man whose entire savings have 
been exhausted by the purchase of herself ; yet in nine 
cases out of ten she accepts with resignation what 
the gods have given her, and settles down to the quiet 
life of a well-behaved matron. It is indeed to the 
interest of the woman's purchaser that he should treat 
her with kindness, for if she becomes seriously dis- 
satisfied she may cause him endless discomfort. 

Not long ago eight men came to the South Division 
court at Weihaiwei v/ith a petition on behalf of one 
of their relatives, Yii K'o-chih, who was married to 
a woman named Chao Shih, imported from Peking. 
She had been selected and purchased for him in 
Peking by his brother, Yti K'o-shun. Now this 
woman, explained the petitioners, was unfortunately 
addicted to the luxurious habits and customs in vogue 
at the capital, and took no pains to adapt herself to the 
simple life of Weihaiwei. Chao Shih was, in fact, a 
self-willed person who did exactly what she chose, and 


when any one remonstrated with her she threatened 
to run away. Matters remained in this unsatisfactory 
condition until she at last carried out her threat and 
disappeared. She was traced to Weihaiwei city, a 
distance of about twelve miles. Her husband's brother, 
Yii K'o-shun/ accompanied by some of his relatives, 
went in pursuit of the fugitive, tracked her to her 
hiding-place, and hired a cart to convey her back to 
her husband. She resolutely refused to get into the 
cart and also declined to accept the alternative of 
riding a mule. She was finally carried off by force 
and the party set out on the homeward journey. 
Unfortunately the woman kicked and screamed in- 
cessantly, thereby making such a disturbance on the 
highway that a detective who happened to meet the 
noisy procession came to the conclusion that it was a 
case of kidnapping, and promptly arrested the whole 
party. The petitioners now requested that since the 
matter had been clearly explained the magistrate 
would issue an order for the release of the prisoners 
and allow the troublesome Chao Shih to be returned 
to the arms of her anxious husband. The magistrate's 
difficulty in this case was unexpectedly solved by the 
lady herself, who assured the court that she was 
weary of a roving life and promised to be a good 
and dutiful wife for the rest of her days. 

Certainly the system of procuring wives from 
Peking is liable to produce disappointments that 
are not all on the side of the women. Listen to the 
tale of woe of one Chung Yen-sheng, a Weihaiwei 
resident who in an ill-starred hour had decided 
to obtain for himself a wife from the capital. " I 
have tried to make the best of her for over two 
years," he said in court, " but it was no good. When 
I bought her I didn't know she was an opium-smoker, 

' It is worth noting that it was not the husband wlio took the next 
step but the husband's brother, by whom the woman had been brought 
from Peking and who was held responsible by his brother and the clan 
generally for her "success '' as a faroily investment. 


but she was. I bought her for forty-eight taels 
(between seven and eight pounds sterling). What 
with travelling expenses and clothes she cost me 
altogether seventy taels before she arrived in Weihai- 
wei. She was a failure. She was very extravagant, 
and 1 had to sell some of my land to satisfy her. She 
suddenly left me of her own accord in the tenth moon 
of last year. She went to K'ung Chia village. I was 
glad to get rid of her. She went to the house of 
K'ung Fu-hsiang. I met him afterwards and I told 
him he might keep the woman for all I cared, but I 
wanted some of my money back. Pie gave me forty- 
five taels. I think I ought to get sixty, and I have 
come to court to obtain a judgment against him for 
the balance of fifteen taels. (Cross-examined) I would 
not take the woman back on any account. I have no 
children, but I shall not look for another wife. My 
younger brother's branch can carry on the ancestral 
worship of our family," 

The old belief, long held by Europeans, that the 
Chinese habitually practise polygamy probably became 
extinct some years ago. The fact is, of course, that a 
Chinese has only one wife, though he may possess 
legally recognised concubines. Among the agricultural 
classes in China concubinage is not common, and in 
Weihaiwei it is comparatively rare. The farmer who 
takes unto himself a concubine does it not only with 
the knowledge but usuall}^ with the full approval of 
his wife, and as a duty which (if his wife is childless) 
he owes to his ancestors. So far as British experience 
goes in Weihaiwei the practice is not productive of 
evil effects. If both a wife and a concubine become 
mothers, the family propert}^, when the time for 
partition arrives, is divided equally among all the sons 
without any discrimination.* But it sometimes happens 
that another child is born after the partition (/6'«-c/;/«') 

' By a peculiar fiction the children of a concubine are regarded a§ 
the wife's children. 
» See pp. 149 seq. 


has already taken place. If the mother of such child 
is the ch'i or wife, the whole of the family property 
will again be put as it were into the melting-pot and 
re-divided — the latest-born child being entitled to a 
share equal to that of each of his brothers. But if 
the child's mother is only a concubine there will be no 
repartition, and either the child will be given a portion 
of his parents' yang-lao-ii^ or his brothers will be 
morally obliged to make suitable provision for him 
out of their respective shares. Practically, therefore, 
there is very little difference in position between a 
wife's son and a concubine's son. 

A modified form of domestic slavery is occasionally 

found in Weihaiwei as elsewhere in China : though 

slavery is indeed much too harsh a term to apply to a 

form of service which is totally devoid of hardship or 

degradation. The Chinese are as a rule indulgent 

masters and are hardly ever (in the part of China with 

which we are dealing) guilty of deliberate cruelty 

towards the inferior members of their households. 

The so-called slaves are generally bought as young 

girls from poor parents or guardians for the purpose 

of domestic service. They are treated as subordinate 

members of the family, and as a rule partake of much 

the same fare as their masters and mistresses. Their 

owners are responsible for their good health and 

moral character, and are expected to help them in 

due time to obtain respectable husbands. The great 

majority of the people of Weihaiwei, being only small 

farmers, are compelled to do their own house-work 

unaided : slave-girls are thus found only in a few of 

the most prosperous households. An instance will 

show that in spite of the indulgent treatment accorded 

to them, slave-girls are regarded as the absolute 

propert}^ of their purchasers. 

A petitioner named Ch'u Wen-k'uei complained of 
"the unlawful annexation of a female slave " of whom 
he declared himself to be the rightful owner. "Five 

1 See pp. 149 seq. 


years ago I became by formal adoption the son of my 
father's elder brother, who died childless. His widow, 
my adoptive mother, bought a slave-girl two years 
ago for the sum of one hundred dollars. My aunt 
and adoptive mother died two months ago and I have 
inherited her property. The slave-girl is part of the 
property and therefore by right belongs to me. Un- 
fortunately a short time before her death my adoptive 
mother lent the slave-girl to the Ts'ung family, and 
the Ts'ung family now refuses to hand her over to me 
on the plea that she has been betrothed to one of the 
little Ts'ungs. As I gave no consent to her betrothal 
I consider it null and void, and I petition for an order 
of the court requiring the Ts'ung family to return 
my slave-girl without further ado." To the surprise 
of both parties the court allowed the question of 
her disposal to be decided by the slave-girl herself, 
and she elected to stay with the family of her 



The remarriage of a widow is, as we have seen, re- 
garded in the best circles with disapproval. The 
model wife — the wife to whom a commemorative arch 
is erected on the roadside near her home and wHose 
name is handed down to posterity in the official 
chronicle of her district as a pattern of virtue — is 
as scrupulously faithful to her husband after his death 
as during his life. But very poor families — such as 
are the majority of the families of Weihaiwei — cannot 
afford to support widows for the mere joy of con- 
templating their fidelity and chastity: hence we find 
that in practice a young widow is often not only in- 
duced by her late husband's family to enter into a 
second marriage and so rid them of the necessity of 
supporting her, but is practically compelled to get 
married before the expiration of the period of deep 
mourning, which lasts twenty-seven months. For a 
widow to remarry while in mourning for her husband 
is by Chinese law a penal offence : though when the 
offence is committed on account of the straitened 
circumstances of the widow and her first husband's 
family it is generally allowed to pass without official 
notice or censure. 

If a young widow has presented her late husband 
with children it is less likely that his family will 
insist upon a second marriage than if she is childless : 



indeed, if the family is well-to-do, it will sometimes 
take active preventive measures if she herself con- 
templates such a step. When a widow with children 
remarries, the children remain with the first husband's 
family, or at any rate revert to that family after the 
years of early childhood. It is when a childless 
young widow, in spite of the solicitations of her 
husband's family, obstinately refuses to take a second 
husband that domestic troubles arise which are likely 
to end in the law-courts. If the widow's father-in-law 
finds it impossible to remove her aversion to a second 
marriage he will probably come to the court with a 
trumped-up charge against her of " unfilial " be- 
haviour. One Chang Yun-sheng brought an action 
in my court against his deceased son's wife, who 
was a daughter of the Lin family, for cruelty and 
want of respect. "She is disobedient," he said; " she 
refuses to feed me, and she constantly assaults and 
vilifies my wife and myself. In our old age we find 
such conduct on the part of our daughter-in-law 
intolerable, and I implore the court to devise 
some means of recalling her to a sense of duty and 

The case soon wore a different aspect when the 
woman's father, Lin Pa, put in an appearance and 
explained that Chang's sole object in making a 
series of false and unjust accusations against a blame- 
less young woman was that he might be sure of 
magisterial sympathy and help in the matter of com- 
pelling her to accept a second marriage. This on 
investigation was found to be the key to the situation. 
Chang regarded the woman as a family asset which 
he desired to realise in cash. Her remarriage would 
have been negotiated purely as a mercantile trans- 
action, the profits of which would have gone into 
the money-bags of Chang. As the covetous old man 
was well able to support his son's wife — indeed she 
was living without expense to him on the property 
which had come to her husband before his death as 


a result oi fen-chia'^ — the court required him to find 
substantial security that in no circumstances would 
he attempt to dispose of the person of his daughter- 
in-law against her will. The interference of the 
woman's father in this case affords another proof that 
a woman's own family does not necessarily abandon 
her for ever to the caprice of the family into which 
she has married. 

Chinese local histories contain many accounts of 
the various devices resorted to by devoted widows 
for the purpose of avoiding the dishonour of a second 
marriage. De Groot^ quotes the case of a child- 
widow — she was only fifteen years of age — who, as 
a reply to the demands made upon her to enter into 
a second marriage, took a solemn oath of chastity 
and confirmed it by cutting off her ears and placing 
them on a dish. Thereupon, as the historian says, 
her relatives " gave up their project," perhaps from 
pity or admiration of the poor child's heroic conduct, 
perhaps from the belief that no self-respecting man 
would care for an earless bride. If the annals of 
Weihaiwei show no cases quite identical with this, 
they contain accounts of many a young widow who 
has died to avoid remarriage. 

But first let us consider a few typical cases of a 
less tragic nature. Of Wang Shih, the wife of a 
graduate named Ch'i, we are told that when her 
husband died leaving her with an infant boy, she, 
though still a very young woman, refrained from a 
second marriage, lived an exemplary life, educated 
her boy with exceptional care, and survived to the age 
of ninety-five : living just long enough to witness the 

' See p. 149. But it should be noted that if the old man had per- 
suaded her to remarry, this property would have reverted to himself 
or his family, and would perhaps have been added to his yang-lao-fi 
(see pp. 149 seq.). A widow has only a life-interest in her husband's 
real property, and even that life-interest is extinguished if she marries 
into another family. 

* Religious System of China^ vol. ii. bk. i , p. 466. 


marriage of her great-grandson. To live to a green 
old age is regarded as one of the rewards of a virtuous 
life. In China, those whom the gods love die old. 
Ch'e Liu Shih, say the Annals of Ning-hai, was for 
similar reasons rewarded by no less than one hundred 
and two years of life. This was in the present 
dynasty. Judging by length of life, still higher virtue 
must have been shown in the Yiian dynasty (1280- 
1367), for we read of Liu Shih, a lady who lived to 
the age of one hundred and three, and was celebrated 
as the happy mother of three noble sons. T'ang Chu 
Shih, a Ning-hai widow of the Ming dynasty, became 
so famous for her virtuous refusals of marriage that 
she was honoured by the local magistrate with the 
official presentation of a laudatory scroll bearing the 
words " Pure and chaste as frozen snow." Wang 
Sun Shih became a grass-widow about ten days after 
her marriage, for her husband was obliged to go 
abroad. After a short absence news was brought 
her that her lord was dead. She was wretchedly 
poor, but she maintained an honourable widowhood 
to her death. Yiieh Ch'i Shih was left a widow soon 
after marriage. The family was very poor. She 
served her father-in-law and brought up her son 
with the utmost zeal and care. She was most in- 
dustrious (all this is carefully recorded in the Annals) 
in looking after the household and in preparing the 
morning and evening meals. She worked all her 
ten fingers to the utmost without sparing herself. 
She died when still young. Sun Liu Shih became 
a widow at the age of nineteen. She strongly de- 
sired to die with her husband, but her parents-in-law 
pointed out that they were old and required her 
services. She obeyed and remained with them, re- 
fusing remarriage. She arranged to have a son 
adopted for her husband, and educated him with the 
utmost care and self-sacrifice. Wang Hsiieh Shih 
was left a widow at the age of twenty-five. She had 
a little son aged three. She brought him up to 


manhood and arranged a marriage for him. Both 
her son and his bride died within a year. She then 
urged her father-in-law to take a concubine in order 
to carry on the family, for her late husband had been 
an only son. Some years later the Literary Chan- 
cellor of the Province presented an honorary tablet 
in commemoration of her virtue. 

Cases of this kind — where young v^^idows refuse re- 
marriage and devote their lives to the service of their 
parents-in-law and their own children — are so common 
that in many parts of China they are the rule rather 
than the exception, though it is not every such case, of 
course, that comes before the notice of the authorities 
and receives official recognition. The matter of 
widows' suicides is one that perhaps deserves more 
careful attention. 

Sociological writers have pointed to the steady 
increase in suicide as one of the most alarming 
characteristics of modern civilised life, inasmuch as 
it seems to indicate a biological deterioration of the 
race. Probably this is so in Europe, where religious 
and ethical teachings set so high a value on life that 
the man who deprives himself of it of his own accord 
is commonly regarded as either a criminal or a lunatic; 
but we must beware of supposing that if suicide in- 
dicates biological decay in England or Saxony it has 
the same indication among the populations of the Far 
East. The common view that Orientals despise life 
and will throw it away on the slenderest provocation 
is not, indeed, strictly accurate. Self-slaughter in 
Weihaiwei and throughout China is probably far 
commoner than anywhere in Europe, in spite of the 
numerous European suicides traceable to the appalling 
mental and moral degradation brought about by 
alcoholism ; and there is no doubt that the Oriental 
will hang or poison himself for reasons which would 
be altogether insufficient to make the average Euro- 
pean do so. But the Oriental will never take this 
extreme step except from a motive which from his 


point of view is all-compelling : so that after all the 
only difference between the Oriental and the European 
in this respect seems to lie in the nature of the motive, 
not in its intensity. 

That the instinct of self-preservation is stronger 
among Europeans than among Chinese is an unproved 
and perhaps unprovable thesis : though it is true that 
Chinese women seem to have a contempt for death 
which possibly arises from a quiescent imagination. 
One reason why suicides are less common among 
Europeans is that the would-be suicide in a country 
like England must not only face the natural fear of 
death and (if he happens to believe in the teachings 
of his Church) the probability or certainty of terrible 
sufferings in another state of existence, but he is also 
obliged to contemplate the dishonour that will be- 
smirch his name and the consequent misery and 
discomfort that will be brought upon his family. 

These deterrent considerations can seldom affect the 
would-be suicide in China. Both Confucianism and 
Buddhism, indeed, forbid self-destruction : but Con- 
fucianism is vague on the subject of life beyond the 
grave, and Buddhism as taught in China lays no stress 
on any terrors that may await the suicide. The 
northern Chinese, including those of Weihaiwei, are 
inclined to the belief that a suicide's only punishment 
consists in being obliged as a lonely earth-bound spirit 
to wander about in the neighbourhood of his old home 
until he can persuade some living person to follow his 
example. When his victim yields to his sinister sug- 
gestions and commits suicide the first ghost is set free: 
though what use he makes of his freedom seems to be 
a doubtful point. It then becomes the second ghost's 
turn to look for a victim. Thus all apparently motive- 
less suicides are supposed to be caused by the ghostly 
promptings of those who have taken their own lives in 
the past. When a suicide of this kind takes place in a 
Weihaiwei village it is believed that another suicide 
will inevitably follow within an extreme limit of two 


years. Neither public opinion nor the law of the land 
stigmatises suicide as a crime : persons who attempt 
and fail to kill themselves are never prosecuted. 

The attitude of the more philosophically-minded of 
the Chinese towards the subject of suicide in general 
is perhaps somewhat similar to that of the Stoic 
Epictetus, who on the one hand forbids it and on 
the other hand calls attention to the fact that the door 
out of life is always open to those who feel that they 
have good reason to use it. As for self-destruction 
involving dishonour in the eyes of society, this is so 
far from being the case in China that in certain circum- 
stances the exact opposite is the result. Posthumous 
honours have been showered upon suicides by imperial 
edict, monuments have been erected to their memory, 
they have been canonised and their tablets honoured 
with official worship in the public temples, and they 
have bequeathed to their relatives and descendants 
a glory that shines undimmed for many successive 

These distinguished suicides, it should be hardly 
necessary to say, have generally been women, and the 
glory of their deed has consisted in the fidelity and 
heroism that have impelled them to follow their dead 
husbands to the grave : but many of them are noble- 
minded statesmen and patriots who have voluntarily 
sealed with their own blood some protest against the 
follies or mistakes of emperors or have taken their 
own lives as a means of drawing public attention to 
some grave danger that menaced the State.^ 

' While this chapter was being written the newspapers reported a 
case of a patriot's suicide which may be cited as typical. " An Imperial 
Edict issued on September 5," says The Times of September 21, 1909, 
" bestowed posthumous honours upon the iVIetropoIitan official Yung 
Lin, who recently ' sacrificed his life in order to display his patriotism.' 
The Edict is in reply to a memorial from the supervising censor of tlie 
Metropolitan circuit and others asking for the Imperial commendation 
of an act which has attracted great attention in Peking. Yung Lin, 
a Manchu of small official rank but high literary gifts, bemoaning the 
fate of his country, recently presented a petition to the Regent ' dealing 


We are accustomed to " topsy-turvydom " in China, 
and perhaps the suicide-statistics might be cited as an 
example of this. " Suicide," says a recent writer on 
sociology, " is a phenomenon of which the male sex 
possesses almost the monopoly."* \{ female be sub- 
stituted for male we have a fair statement of how 
affairs stand in Weihaiwei. Over ninety per cent, of 
the persons who make away with themselves belong 
to the female sex, and the great majority of them are 
young married women or young widows. Since 1729, 
when it was proclaimed by imperial decree that official 
honours were no longer to be conferred upon widows 
who slew themselves on the occasion of their husbands' 
death, it has become less common than formerly for 
young widows to practise the Chinese equivalent of 
sail, but the custom is far from extinct, and at any rate 
it seems to have left among women a readiness to fling 
away their lives for reasons which to us appear sin- 
gularly inadequate. Imperial edicts did not and could 
not stamp out a custom which was of great antiquity 
and deeply rooted in popular esteem. The British 
Government in India forbade the practice of sati long 
ago, and it has therefore ceased to exist throughout 

with the circumstances of the times, and then gave up his life.' Un- 
able to present it in person, he sent his memorial to the Press. It is a 
model of finished literary style. Imperial approval will certainly be 
given to its official publication throughout the Empire." In the course 
of his memorial, in which he alluded to and bewailed the misfortunes 
of China and the crimes of those in high places, Yung Lin expressed 
his belief that unless reforms speedily take place, the " foreigners 
will seize the excuse of protection for chapels and Legations to in- 
crease their garrisons, while secretly pursuing their scheme for convert- 
ing their sojourn in the land into ownership." He also makes some 
remarks which, though they would meet the hearty support of a 
Ruskin, will not be relished by foreign traders. Writing of the waste 
of the national resources, he says that "vast sums of money are 
frittered away in the purchase of useless foreign goods." After sending 
his memorial to the Press, Yung Lin cut his throat. The direct or 
indirect results of this affair will perhaps be more far-reaching than 
may at present be thought likely. 

' G. Chattertou Hill, Heredity atid Selection in Sociology, p. 187. 












the Indian Empire; but even now there is strong 
reason to doubt whether popular opinion is on the 
side of the Government in this matter, and whether 
the custom would not immediately spring into vogue 
again if the British raj were withdrawn/ 

There is no doubt that the suicide of widows in 
China is a survival of the ancient custom (which 
flourished in countries so far apart as India and 
Peru, Africa and China) whereby wives and slaves 
were as a matter of ordinary duty expected to follow 
their husbands and masters to the grave ; and though 
the day has probably long gone past when such 
suicides were encouraged or actually enforced by the 
deceased's relatives, it cannot be doubted that to this 
day public opinion in China is strongly on the side 
of the widow who chooses to follow her lord to the 
world of ghosts.^ 

The present-day theory of the matter held by the 
people of eastern Shantung, including Weihaiwei, 
appears to be this. A woman undoubtedly performs 
a meritorious act in following her husband to the 
spirit-world, but her relations are fully justified in 
preventing her, and indeed are obliged to prevent 
her, from throwing away her life if they know of or 
guess her intention. If her husband has died leaving 
to her the care of his aged parents who have no other 
daughters-in-law to look after them, or if she has 
young children who require her care, she does wrong 
to commit suicide, though the children are sometimes 
ignored. The highest praise is reserved for a woman 
who temporarily refrains from destroying herself in 
order that she may devote herself to her husband's 
parents and her own offspring, but who, when they 
are dead or independent of her care, then fulfils her 

• See Campbell Oman's Cults, Customs and Supostltions of India 
(Fisher Unwin : 1908), p. 108. 

* Cases in modern times where Chinese widows have actually been 
compelled to commit suicide on their husbands' death are referred to 
in Smith's Chhtese Characteristics (5th ed.), p. 215. 



original desire and sacrifices herself to the spirit of 
her dead husband. The fact that in any case the 
woman's relatives are considered bound to prevent, 
if possible, the act of suicide from taking place, shows 
the beginning of a realisation that self-destruction is 
in itself an evil. Time was when they would not only 
make no attempt to save the woman's life, but, as in 
India, would incite her and even compel her to die. 

Of the stories of widows' suicides which have taken 
place during the past few centuries in Weihaiwei 
and its neighbourhood, and which were considered 
meritorious enough to deserve public honours and 
special mention in the official Annals, a few examples 
may be found of interest. The cases quoted are in 
no way unique or unusual, and there is no reason to 
doubt their absolute authenticity. 

Tsou Chao-tuan being sick of a mortal disease, his 
wife Ts'ung Shih and his concubine Sun Shih made 
an agreement with one another that they would follow 
him to death. As soon as he was dead the two women 
hanged themselves. Members of the family quickly 
came to the rescue and cut the ropes by which the 
women were suspended. Sun Shih the concubine 
was already dead, but Ts'ung Shih the wife revived. 
A few days later she again hanged herself, this time 
successfully. The wife was thirty years of age, the 
concubine nineteen. The district-magistrate took 
official notice of the matter, and caused a carved 
memorial to be set up testifying to the two women's 
exemplary virtue. " They had performed an act," 
he said, " which would cause their fragrant names 
to be remembered for ever." 

T'ao Liu Shih, daughter of Liu Fang-ch'ing, was 
betrothed to one T'ao, but they were not married. 
T'ao died. When the death was announced to her 
she hanged herself. [To appreciate the significance 
of this act it should be remembered that there was 
no question of love-sickness : the young couple in all 
probability had never spoken to or even sepn e^ch 


other. As will be understood from explanations 
already given/ the girl would as a matter of course 
be buried with her betrothed as his wife, and would 
be given his name on the tombstone and the ancestral 
tablets. Probably the youth's parents, in this as in 
most similar cases, adopted a son for the dead couple ; 
if so he would be brought up to regard them as his 
father and mother, and would inherit their property. 
Had the girl refrained from suicide and married some 
one else, the family of the first betrothed might have 
provided him with a dead wife, in accordance with 
the practice already described.-] 

Chang Sun Shih, aged twent3^-six, was the wife of 
Chang Ch'ing-kuang. On the death of her husband 
she took an oath to follow him. The family forcibly 
prevented her from killing herself. She pretended 
to submit to life and to the rearing of her young child, 
so gradually the family forbore to watch her. She 
then suddenly hanged herself. 

Li Chu Shih, aged twenty-one, was the wife of 
Li T'ing-lun. Her husband died, leaving her without 
children. She killed herself by jumping into a well. 
A stone memorial to her is extant. 

Ch'en Yang Shih was the wife of Ch'en Yiian-fu. 
On the death of her husband she starved herself to 

Pi Yii Shih, wife of Pi Ch'ang-jen, hanged herself 
by the side of her husband's coffin. [Voluntary death 
beside the coffin is exceedingly common and seems 
to represent an ancient custom.] 

Chang T'ang Shih was the wife of Chang Ching- 
wen. On her husband's death she devoted herself to 
bringing up a young daughter. She preserved a 
chaste widowhood till the death of her daughter, and 
then hanged herself. 

Pi Chang Shih was the wife of Pi Hung-fan. Her 
husband when dying gave instructions that as she 

' See p, 203, 

* See pp, 204 seq, 


was still young a second marriage was to be arranged 
for her. To please him she said she would obey him. 
They were childless. When he died her first action 
was to see that her late husband was duly provided 
with an heir and successor, and she did this by 
bringing about the formal adoption of one of his 
nephews. She then proceeded to arrange a marriage 
for the nephew so that the eventual continuation of 
the family might be properly provided for. " Now," 
she said, " my duty is done. What is a lonely widow 
to go on living for ? " She then committed suicide. 

Li Wang Shih was the wife of Li Yuan-po. When 
her husband was ill she waited until he had only two 
more days to live, and then hanged herself [The 
question naturally arises, who tended the sick husband 
during the last two days ? The woman's own view 
might have been that by dying first she would be 
ready to meet and help her husband's spirit when 
it had crossed the dark flood, and would thus render 
him greater service than by merely tending his last 
hours on earth. But a better explanation of her action 
is given by the details furnished by the chronicler in 
connection with the next case.] 

Sun Shih, a Weihaiwei woman, had a dying husband. 
Fearing that his last moments might be embittered by 
the thought that she would marr}'^ some one else after 
his death she decided to hang herself before he passed 
away, so that he would know she had remained true 
till death. She therefore hanged herself, and a day 
later her husband died. This happened in the Ming 
period, and in 1585 a monument was erected to her 

Liang Wang Shih, aged twenty-one, was the wife 
of Liang K'o-jun. At the time of her husband's death 
she was pregnant, so she did not destro}^ herself 
immediately. In due time she gave birth to her child 
—a daughter — who, however, soon died. She there- 
upon committed suicide. 

Liu Ch'en Shih, aged twenty-eight, was the wife of 


Liu Sheng. On her husband's death the family feared 
she would hang herself, so they watched her with 
special care. She smilingly assured them that she 
had no such intention, so they relaxed their watchful- 
ness. She then hanged herself. 

Hou Wang Shih tried to hang herself on the death 
of her husband. Some female neighbours came in and 
saved her life : but she awaited another opportunity 
and died by her own hand. 

Chiang Lin Shih was a young bride. Two months 
after her marriage her husband had to go away on 
business, and on the road he fell in with a band of 
robbers and was killed by them. On hearing the 
news she hanged herself. 

Sung Wang Shih attempted to hang herself on the 
death of her husband, but owing to the intervention of 
friends she was restored to life. A second time she 
tried to hang herself, but the rope broke and her 
purpose remained unfulfilled. Then she took poison, 
but the dose was insufficient and she revived. Then 
the family tried to compel her to marry again ; but 
she tore her face with her nails till it streamed with 
blood and resolutely refused to entertain the suggestion 
of a second marriage. Finally she retired to her 
private apartment and succeeded in strangling her- 

Wang Chao Shih was the wife of an hereditary 
chih-hui'^ of Ning-hai, in the Ming dynasty. Her 
husband died a month after the wedding. She re- 
mained faithful to him, and finally hanged herself 
Two maid-servants followed her example. 

Wang Sun Shih was the concubine of a chih-hui. 
Her husband was killed in battle. On hearing the 
news she hanged herself 

Yu Lu Shih swore on the death of her husband that 
she would not live alone. Her family wept bitterly 
and begged her to give up her intention to die, but 
she replied, *' I look upon death as a going home. 

' See p. 47. 


The wise will understand me." Then in the night- 
time she strangled herself. 

Liu Shih, the daughter of Liu Fang-ch'ing of Ch'eng- 
shan (the Shantung Promontory) was betrothed to a 
Weihaiwei man named T'ao Tu-sheng. A " lucky 
day" was chosen for the marriage, and the bride was 
being escorted to her new home on that day when the 
news was brought her of the bridegroom's sudden 
death. She wished to follow him to the grave,^ but 
her father and mother prevented her from carrying 
out her wish. When they began to relax their watch- 
fulness she hanged herself. The district-magistrate 
presented an honorary scroll to the family to com- 
memorate the girl's fidelity and chastity. 

Chou Ch'i Shih was the wife of a literary student. 
Her husband died, and she hanged herself on the 
following New Year's Eve. 

Tung Tu Shih was the second wife of a graduate. 
On her husband's death she starved herself to death. 
An edict was issued authorising the erection of an 
honorific portal. 

Chang Shih was betrothed in childhood to a man 
named Yiian. He died before the marriage took 
place, when the girl was only sixteen. She begged 
to be allowed to carry out the full mourning rites 
prescribed for a widow, but her family would not hear 
of it.- She then hanged herself. In the Shun Chih 
period (1644-61) a decree was received authorising 
the erection of a commemorative portal. She and 
her betrothed were buried together as man and wife. 
The portal was erected at the side of the tomb. 
Elegies, funeral odes, essays, scrolls containing lau- 
datory couplets, were composed by many of the 

' The technical term almost invariably used for this action is hsiln, 
which is the word used for the old practice of burying alive with the 
dead. In modern times, as in all these stories, the word signifies 
the death of a widow who commits suicide to prove her wifely 

* Obviously because they wished to arrange a new betrothal for her. 


local poets and scholars in honour of this virtuous 

Liu Yii Shih was the wife of a man who died when 
he was away from home. She wailed for him bitterly, 
and said, " My husband is dead and it is my duty to 
go down to the grave with him : but he has left no 
son to carry on the ancestral sacrifices. Therefore 
my heart is ill at ease." She then sold her jewellery 
in order to provide money enough to enable her 
husband's younger brother to get married at once, 
A bride was selected and the marriage took place. 
In a year a boy was born, and Liu Yu Shih said, 
•* Now my husband is no longer childless and I can 
close my eyes in death." That night she hanged 
herself. [It should be noted that in such a case as 
this it would be the duty of the younger brother to 
surrender one of his own sons in order that he might 
become the son and heir of the deceased. If the 
younger brother had only one son and there was no 
other relative of the appropriate generation available 
to become adopted son to the elder, the son would be 
allowed to inherit the property of his uncle and father 
and to carry on the ancestral rites for both. This 
is known as shuaiig fiao.'] 

Yang Wang Shih was the wife of Yang Shih-ch'in. 
Twenty-seven days after the death of her husband she 
gave birth to a boy, who died within a year. She then 
devoted herself to the care of her (husband's) parents. 
A year or two later her father-in-law died, and the 
year after that her mother-in-law died too. The 
young widow mourned unceasingly, saying, " My 
husband and son are dead, my parents too have gone 
to their long home, how dare I continue to exist 
between earth and sky ? " Then she begged the 
elders of the family to arrange the matter of adopting 
a son for her late husband, and then she hanged 

Ch'ang Li Shih was married to a man who died in 
the reign of K'ang Hsi (1662-1722). She wished to 


die with him, but she was with child and therefore 
forbore to carry out her wish. Shortly afterwards 
a child was born. It was a boy, who only lived seven 
days. Looking up to heaven she sighed bitterly, 
saying, " When my husband died I refrained from 
dying with him, for I hoped to become the mother 
of his child. Now the child, too, is gone. It is as 
though my husband had twice died. Can I bear to 
survive him all alone ? " She then impressively urged 
her sisters-in-law (wives of her late husband's brothers) 
to serve their mother-in-law dutifully, and then took 
an oath to follow her lord to the lower world. Her 
first resolution was to hang herself. Her sisters-in- 
law kept watch on her so that she could not do this. 
Then she tried to take poison, but the family, full of 
pity and affection, kept her from this too. Full of 
vexation she cried out, " Am I to be the only one 
under all heaven who longs for death yet cannot 
die?" Then she resolutely set herself to starve to 
death. For many days she refused nourishment of 
any kind, and on the sixteenth day of her fast she 
died. Many were the funeral odes composed by 
noted poets in her honour, and in the reign of 
Ch'ien Lung (1736-95) an honorary archway was 
erected to her memory and her tablet was given a 
place in the local Shrine of Chastity and Filial Piety. 

The last story of this kind to be quoted has not 
been extracted from the local Annals nor does it refer 
to events which actually took place in Weihaiwei ; it 
was told me, however, by a Weihaiwei resident con- 
cerning a girl with whose family his own was distantly 
connected, and as it throws some light on certain 
Chinese customs and possesses a pathetic interest of 
its own though it is not essentially different from 
many other such stories, a little space may be found 
for it here. 

A girl of eighteen years of age, named Chang Shih, 
had been betrothed since early childhood to a youth 
who lived in a neighbouring village, and the bridal 



day was drawing near. It was going to be a great 
occasion for every one concerned, for both families 
were well-to-do and popular and the girl was known 
by all her friends to be as tender and lovable as she 
was graceful and beautiful. But over the family hung 
a cloud that burst as suddenly as a thunderstorm : for 
one day, when the family were eagerly looking forward 
to the great event of the marriage, the black news 
came of the illness and death of the bridegroom. 

The parents of Chang Shih consulted together as to 
how they should break the news to their daughter, 
who though she had never seen or spoken to her 
betrothed had been brought up in full knowledge of 
the fact that some day she would be his wife. She 
heard their whispers, and with quick intuition felt 
certain that their conversation had some reference to 
herself. Going to her mother, she questioned her. 
" What bad news have you, mother ? " she said. 
" Whatever it may be you must tell your daughter." 
For a moment or two the elder woman was afraid to 
speak plainly and showed embarrassment, but at last, 
breaking into sobs and tears, she told the dismal story. 
" My daughter's wedding-day was fixed and a happy 
marriage had been foretold. But now all our hopes 
are ruined, for my daughter's betrothed has closed his 
eyes." The girl's face showed no sign of emotion. 
Her mother wondered at this, for she knew that her 
daughter was highly strung and was not one who 
could readily dissemble her feelings. Without a word 
Chang Shih turned away and retired to her own room. 
At this time she was gaily and carefully dressed like 
most young Chinese ladies of good family : her pretty 
face was powdered and rouged, and sweet-scented 
flowers and two little gold ornaments adorned her 
shining hair. When an hour later she appeared 
before her mother again she was almost unrecog- 
nisable. All trace of powder and rouge was washed 
from her face, so that she had become — as a European 
observer would have said — more beautiful than ever ; 



her long black hair, devoid of a single flower or 
ornament, was uncoiled and hung loosely over her 
shoulders ; her handsome embroidered dress had 
been thrown off, and her lithe form was disfigured by 
a gown of coarse sackcloth. 

" My poor child," exclaimed her mother in amaze- 
ment, " how is it that you, who are still a maiden, 
have attired yourself like a widow ? Are you not still 
a member of your father's house ? Are we of such 
poor report that our daughter will be shunned by 
every family that has a son still unbetrothed ? Take 
off those ill-omened clothes that speak to us only of 
death, and become again our gay little daughter who 
has yet before her many years of happy life. It will 
not be long before the go-betweens come knocking at 
our door with eager proposals of marriage for the 
fairest little lady in the whole prefecture." 

The girl listened, but never a smile appeared on 
her face. " It is my mother's voice that speaks but 
the thoughts are not my mother's. Can I, your 
daughter, ever give myself to another man v/hile my 
husband has gone all lonely down to the Yellow 
Springs?^ I beseech you, my mother, grant your 
daughter's last request. In seven days' time my be- 
trothed was to come to escort me to his home and I 
was to sit in the red marriage-chair and to be carried 
away to be his bride. I pray you, my mother, that my 
wedding-day may not be cancelled. When the spirit 
of my husband comes for me on that day I shall 
be ready." The girl's mother did her utmost to shake 
her daughter's resolution, for she loved her dearly, 
and feared the girl was concealing some dreadful in- 
tention in this strange request. But her words were 
quite without avail, and she soon left her daughter to 
talk matters over with her husband. It was not with- 
out some justifiable pride that they finally decided to 
humour her; for in China the girl who on the death 
of her betrothed renounces all thought of marriage 

' The Under-world of disembodied souls. 


with a living man and, by remaining faithful to the 
dead, embraces at the same instant wifehood and 
widowhood, brings glory and honour to her father's 
family and also to the family of the dead bridegroom. 
The emperor's representative — the head of the local 
civil government — will himself do homage to her stead- 
fast virtue, and will doubtless convey to her parents 
some mark of imperial approval ; while her native 
village will derive widespread fame from the fact that 
it had once been her home. 

The bridegroom's parents, in the case before us, 
received with appreciative gladness the announce- 
ment of the girl's fixed determination to remain 
faithful to their son, and they readily agreed to 
fall in with her wish for the formality of a marriage 
between the living and the dead. Preparations 
for the strange wedding went on apace, and though 
there was no merriment and very little feasting, 
strangers who suddenly arrived on the scene would 
never have guessed that the bridegroom was lying 
stiff and cold with never a thought for the beauti- 
ful bride that was to be his. 

Though marriages of this kind — so strange and 
perhaps shocking to Western notions — were by no 
means unknown, several years had elapsed since 
such a ceremony had taken place in the district, 
and the local interest shown in it was very great. 
On the day of the wedding two large palanquins 
— one red, the other green — were carried on stal- 
wart shoulders from the bridegroom's house to that 
of the bride. At ordinary marriages in Shantung 
the bridegroom usually goes in the red chair to 
meet his bride while the green chair follows be- 
hind, generally empty.^ On arrival at the bride's 
house the bridegroom is received with much cere- 
mony and introduced to every one except his bride, 

' In Peking and many other places the bridegroom does not ying 
ch'in or " go to meet the bride." He stays at home and awaits her 


whom he is not allowed to see. Most of the intro- 
ductions take place in a guest-room, where he is 
regaled with light refreshments. Meanwhile the red 
chair in which he arrived is taken into the inner 
courtyard to await the bride. As soon as it is an- 
nounced that she is ready to start, the bridegroom 
takes ceremonious leave of the family and prepares 
for departure. The bride in her red chair goes in 
front, he — in the green chair this time — follows be- 
hind. Thus bride and bridegroom, who have not yet 
exchanged a word, set out for the bridegroom's home. 
There they are received by his relatives, and the other 
nuptial ceremonies follow in due course. 

To outward appearance there was little to suggest 
any unusual circumstances in the marriage of Chang 
Shih. The red chair and green chair came to her house 
in the usual way ; the only difference was that in the 
red chair there was no living bridegroom, only his 
p^ai-wei — a white strip of paper bearing his name and 
age and the important words ling wei — " the seat of 
the soul."i 

On arrival at the home of Chang Shih, the p^ai-wei 
was taken with the deepest marks of respect out of the 
red chair and carried into the house. It was rever- 
ently placed on a small shrine in the guest-chamber, 
and in front of it were set a few small dishes of fruit 
and sweetmeats and several sticks of burning incense. 
Then every member of the family separately greeted 
it with a silent obeisance. When the time came for 
departure, the/>'rt/-rrt7 was carefully carried out of doors 
again and placed in the green chair, the red one being 
now occupied by Chang Shih ; and thus the strange 
bridal procession started home again, the soul of the 

* This is a temporary tablet in which the soul of the deceased 
is supposed to reside till after the burial, when it is formally summoned 
to take up its abode in the wooden tablet intended to remain per- 
manently in the possession of the family. In the present case the 
temporary tablet would be ceremonially destroyed by fire after it had 
served its purpose. 


dead bridegroom escorting the body of the living 
bride. On arrival at the house the p'ai-zvei was again 
taken out of its chair and set up in the large hall 
where the dead man's family and their guests were 
waiting to receive Chang Shih. For the time being 
her widow's sackcloth had been cast aside, and she 
was clad in the resplendent attire of a rich young 
bride. If her face bore signs of inward emotion they 
were totally concealed beneath powder and rouge, and 
not even her own parents could have told what 
thoughts or feelings were uppermost at that time in 
their beautiful daughter's mind. She went through 
the usual ceremonies that accompany a Chinese 
wedding, so far as they could be carried out without 
the living presence of the bridegroom. 

Having paid the necessary reverence to Heaven and 
Earth, to the souls of the ancestors of her new family, 
and finally to the living members of that family in the 
order of their seniority, she retired to the room that 
would in happier circumstances have been the bridal 
chamber, and there she quickly divested herself of 
her gay wedding robes and reassumed the dress of a 
widow in deepest mourning. Her betrothed — her 
husband now — had already been laid in his coffin, but 
in accordance with the usual Chinese custom many days 
had to elapse between the coffining and the burial. 
Those days were devoted to the elaborate rites always 
observed at a well-conducted Chinese funeral, and the 
young girl having taken her place as chief mourner 
performed her painful duties in a manner that gained 
her renewed respect and admiration. At last came 
the day of the burial. From the home of the living 
to the home of the dead marched a long procession of 
wailing mourners robed in sackcloth ; several bands 
of flute-players and other musicians went in front and 
behind ; there were scatterers of paper money, coloured- 
flag bearers and trumpeters, whose duty it was to 
conciliate and keep at a distance evil spirits and ill- 
omened influences ; there were lantern-bearers to 


pilot the dead man's soul ; there was a great paper 
image of the Road-clearing Spirit, borne in a draped 
and tasselled pavilion ; there was a dark tabernacle con- 
taining the tablet to which the spirit of the deceased 
himself would in due course be summoned ; there was 
the long streamer, the ling ching or Banner of the 
Soul ; and there was the coffin itself, almost entirely 
concealed beneath its canopy, covered with richly 
embroidered scarlet draperies. 

It is not usual, nowadays, in eastern Shantung, for 
the female mourners to accompany funeral processions 
throughout the whole sad journey, but on this occasion 
the widowed maiden acted in accordance with the 
ceremonies sanctioned by the sages of old,' for she 
followed the coffin all the way to the grave. Then at 
last the attendant mourners — members of her father's 
family and of the family of the dead — were for the 
first time admitted to the secret of her intentions. 
No sooner had the coffin been lowered than Chang 
Shih threw herself into the grave and lay across the 
coffin-lid face downwards, as if to embrace, for the 
first and last time, the husband whose form she had 
never seen in life nor in death. For a few moments 
her fellow-mourners waited in decorous silence until 
the violence of her passionate outburst should have 
spent itself, but seeing that she did not stir one of 
them at last begged her to leave the dead to the dead. 
" My place is by my husband," was the girl's reply. 
" If he is with the dead, then my place too is with the 
dead. Fill up the grave." To obey her behest was 
out of the question, and for some time no one stirred. 
Knowing the nature of the girl, her relatives felt sure 
that if they forcibly removed her from her present 
position and compelled her to return home with them 
she would seize the first opportunity of destroying 

Some one at last suggested that if they humoured 

* See the Chou Li. In Peking and many other places the women 
still accompany the funeral party to the graveside. 


her to the extent of sprinkling her with a light 
covering of earth which she could easily throw off as 
soon as the desire of life once more asserted itself, 
she might be permanently restored to a normal con- 
dition and all might be well. This suggestion was 
acted upon. Some handfuls of earth were thrown 
loosely over the living and the dead, each mourner, 
in accordance with custom, contributing a portion.^ 
Having by this time concluded the sacrificial rites and 
ceremonies, the mourners now withdrew from the 
graveside. When some of the nearest relatives of 
Chang Shih returned an hour later they found that 
the light covering of earth had not been disturbed. 
The desire of life had never asserted itself after all. 
The girl was dead. 

Carefully and tenderly she was taken up and brought 
back to the sad bridal chamber that had witnessed no 
bridal. Long before her beautiful body had been 
prepared for burial and placed in its splendid coffin 
her fame had already spread far through town and 
countryside. Vast was the crowd of mourners who, 
when her body was once more laid beside that of 
her husband, never to be disturbed again, flocked 
from distances of over a thousand li to show their 
admiration of the bravest of women and most faithful 
of wives. 

With the exception of the last, all these little stories 
have been translated almost word for word from the 
official records of Weihaiwei and the three neigh- 
bouring districts. Similar cases could be collected 
by the thousand. Honorific portals and handsome 
marble monuments stand by the roadside in every 

' In China the belief that inspires this practice is that the greater the 
number of mourners who throw handfuls of earth on the coffin, the 
greater will be the prosperity of the family in future and the more 
numerous its descendants. The custom is not, of course, confined to 
China. It is mentioned by Sir Thomas Browne as a practice of the 
Christians, " who thought it too little, if they threw not the earth thrice 
upon the interred body " {Urn-Burial, ch, iv.). 


part of the Empire, silent witnesses to noble Chinese 
womanhood. There is not a district in China that 
does not possess its roll of women who have sacrificed 
their lives in obedience to what they believed to be 
the call of a sacred obligation. Probably none but 
the most bigoted or the most ignorant will read of 
these poor women — many of them hardly more than 
children — with feelings of either contempt or abhor- 
rence. They died no doubt from a mistaken sense of 
duty : but to die for an idea that is based on error 
surely requires as much courage and resolution as to 
die for an idea that is radiant with truth, and — what 
is perhaps of greater practical significance — the women 
who go willingly to the grave for a cause that to us 
seems a poor one may be counted on to suffer as cheer- 
fully and die as bravely for a cause that is truly great. 

Brave women do not give birth to ignoble sons; 

and when we contemplate the present and speculate 

as to the future condition of China we may do well to 

remember that women like those of whom we have 

just read are among the mothers of the great race that 

constitutes perhaps more than a quarter of the world's 

population. The woman who offers herself as a willing 

sacrifice to-day on the altar of what may be called a 

domestic ideal is the mother of a man who may, 

to-morrow, offer himself with readiness and gladness 

on the altar of a political or a national ideal. In the 

marvellous evolution that has taken place during the 

past half-century in the island Empire of Japan one 

has hardly known which to admire most : the splendid 

daring and patriotism shown by the Japanese soldier 

and civilian or the patience and trustfulness shown in 

times of trial and hardship by the Japanese woman. 

China has surprises in store for us as startling as 

those that were given us by Japan ; and not the least 

of these surprises, to many Western minds, will perhaps 

be the unfiinching steadiness of the Chinese soldier 

on the field of battle when his regenerated country 

calls upon him to defend her from the spoiler, and the 


heroism and fidelity of the Chinese woman at home. 
Europeans will doubtless wonder at what Ihey take 
to be the sudden evolution of hitherto undreamed-of 
features in the Chinese character; yet those supposed 
new features will only be the ancestral qualities of 
loyalty and devotion directed into new channels 
broader and deeper than the old. 

In spite of these considerations, most Western 
readers, whatever may be their views on the ethics of 
suicide, will probably confess themselves utterly unable 
to understand how a young betrothed girl can work 
herself into the state of intense emotional excitement 
which the act of self-destruction implies, merely as the 
result of the untimely death of the man to whom she 
happened to be engaged. The suicide of real widows, 
distracted with grief for the loss of a beloved husband, 
they can understand : but it cannot be love, and it can 
hardly be grief in the ordinary sense, that induces a 
Chinese girl to throw away her life when she hears of 
the decease of a young man with whom she has never 
exchanged a word and whose face perhaps she has 
never seen. It may be pointed out, in partial explana- 
tion of a phenomenon so strange to Western notions, 
that not only is a betrothal in China practically as 
binding as a marriage, but that marriage, and there- 
fore the betrothal that precedes it, are according to 
Chinese belief founded on mysterious ante-natal 
causes. When the sceptical Englishman says jestingly 
that " marriages are made in heaven " he is giving 
expression to a theory that in China is held to be 
essentially true, though it is not expressed by the 
Chinese in exactly the same terms. The theory is 
independent of and perhaps older than Buddhism, 
though no doubt popular Buddhism has done a great 
deal to strengthen it ; and it has certainly helped to 
keep the Chinese people satisfied with their traditional 
marriage customs, which, as every one knows, are quite 
independent of love-making. It is partly this theory 
that makes a Chinese woman contented and even 



happy in the contemplation of her approaching 
marriage to an unknown bridegroom, and often fixes 
in a girl's mind the idea that to give herself to any 
man other than her first betrothed, even if the latter 
died during the betrothal, would be as shameful a 
proceeding as to commit an act of unfaithfulness in 

Probably it is only the fear of social disorder and 
many other practical inconveniences that have pre- 
vented the second betrothals and second marriages 
of women from being more severely discouraged by 
public opinion than is actually the case. The first 
are in ordinary practice passed over without com- 
ment, though the fact of the original betrothal 
is "hushed up," or is at least not talked of; the 
second are in many parts of China still regarded 
with austere disfavour, though circumstances such 
as extreme poverty may render them necessary. In 
any case, the girl who refuses a second betrothal 
is still honoured and respected just as if she were 
a widow who had virtuously refused a second 

It should be noted that the discredit of a second 
marriage or the lesser discredit of contracting a second 
betrothal does not attach to the woman only. But 
a man is in practice more at liberty than a woman to 
consult his own inclinations. The 3^oung widower 
who refrains from a second marriage after his wife's 
death is regarded as deserving of the greatest praise 
and respect, but if he is childless he is in the dilemma 
of having to be either unfaithful to the memory of his 
wife or undutiful towards his parents and ancestors ; 
and as the parents "count" more than the wife in 
China he must choose to be unfaithful rather than 
undutiful. It is an important part of Chinese teaching 
that the most unfilial of sons is he who has no children : 
the reason being, of course, that childlessness means 
the extinction of the family and the cessation of the 
ancestral sacrifices. Thus a childless widower not 


only may, but must, seek a second marriage, especially 
if he has no married brothers. A common way out 
of the difficulty is for the widower to take a con- 
cubine : for the concubine's position in China is a 
perfectly legal one, and her children, as we have 
seen, are legitimate. 

After all, it is perhaps impossible for any European 
mind to understand the real nature of the impulse 
that occasionally drives a Chinese girl to kill herself 
on the death of an unknown betrothed ; not indeed 
because the occidental mind is essentially different 
from the oriental, but because of the unbridged chasm 
that lies between the social, religious and ethical 
systems and traditions of East and West. Considera- 
tions of this kind should perhaps teach us something 
of the limitations of our minds and characters, by 
showing how comparative a thing is our boasted 
independence of thought, and with what humiliating 
uniformity our ideals and impulses are conditioned 
by the social and traditional surroundings in which 
we live and move. However this may be, it will 
perhaps be comforting to know that the Chinese, 
unsentimental as they are in their methods of court- 
ship, are no strangers to what in Europe we recognise 
as the romance of love. 

As we saw in the last chapter, Chinese marriages, 
in spite of their supposed pre-natal origin, are not 
always productive of lifelong happiness ; but as an 
offset to the melancholy picture there drawn of many 
domestic infelicities, it is only fair to emphasise the 
unrufQed peace and contentment of very many Chinese 
households. In numerous cases this happy condition 
of affairs is the result of a real if somewhat undemon- 
strative love between husband and wife — a love that 
is perhaps all the more likely to be firm and lasting 
because it only sprang into existence after marriage. 
It is obviously difficult to cite instances of this. It 
is the unhappy marriages, not the happy ones, that 
in China — as everywhere else — engage the attention 


of an administrator or a judge. But sometimes a 
suicide occurs in circumstances which indicate that 
the moving impulse can only have been deep grief 
for the death of a beloved wife or husband. I have 
had cause to investigate officially no less than three 
such cases within two months. 

A man named Chang Chao-wan died after a short 
illness, A few hours later, at midnight, his wife, who 
had previously shown every sign of intense grief, 
hanged herself. It was ascertained that the couple 
had lived a happy married life for nearly forty years. 
He was fifty-eight years of age, she was fifty-seven. 
They had three sons, all grown-up. In a case like 
this the action of the woman cannot be attributed to 
a desire for notoriety or a hope of posthumous 
honours, for it is only young widows who have any 
reason to expect such rewards. 

The second instance is perhaps of greater interest. 
The story may be stated in the words of the man who 
first reported it. " My second son, Ts'ung Chia-lan, 
Went to Kuantung (Manchuria) a few months after his 
marriage. This was eight years ago. He went abroad 
because the family was poor and he wanted to make 
some money. His wife was very miserable when he 
went and begged him not to go, but he promised to 
come back to her. He disappeared, and for years 
we heard nothing of him. His wife made no com- 
plaint, but she was unhappy. A few months ago a 
returned emigrant told us that he had seen my son 
in Manchuria. When I saw that this news made his 
wife glad I sent my elder son, Chia-lin, to look for 
him and bring him home. My elder son was away 
for more than two months and never found him. 
Then he returned by himself and told us there was 
no hope of our ever seeing Chia-lan again. His wife 
heard him say this. We tried to console her. She 
said nothing at all, but two hours after my elder 
son had come home she took a dose of arsenic 
and died. She was a good woman, and no one ever 


had a complaint to make against her. She had no 

The last case to be mentioned shows that it is not 
women only who can throw away their lives on the 
death of their loved ones. A native of the village of 
Hai-hsi-t'ou came to report the suicide of a nephew, 
Tung Ch'i-tzu. " He was twenty years old," said my 
informant. " He was deeply attached to his wife and 
she to him. She died about six weeks ago. They 
had been married less than two years and they had 
no children. He was very unhappy after her death, 
and would not let any one console him. He was 
left alone, and yesterday when his father had gone 
to market he hanged himself from a beam with his 
own girdle. There was no other motive for the 
suicide. He died because he loved his wife too much, 
and could not live without her." 

Deaths and suicides have made a dismal chapter, 
and perhaps no better way could be devised of 
lightening the gloom than by turning to a source of 
brightness that does more to make homes happy — • 
Chinese homes and Western homes — than anything 
else in the world. To say that the Chinese love 
their children would be unnecessary : they would be 
a unique race if they did not. But it may not be 
accepted equally readily that Chinese girls and boys 
are charming and lovable even when compared with 
the modern children of western Europe and America, 
who have all the resources of science and civilisation 
lavished on their upbringing, and for whose benefit 
has been founded something like a special branch of 
psychology. Perhaps there has been no section of 
the Chinese people more hopelessly misunderstood 
by Western folk than the children. It is not un- 
natural that such should be the case It is but rarely 
that feelings of real sympathy and mutual apprecia- 
tion can exist between Chinese children and adult 
Europeans. It would be futile to deny the fact that 
by the Chinese child we are almost sure to be re- 


garded as fearfully and wonderfully ugly — and all 
good children have an instinctive dislike of the ugly. 
Our clothing is ridiculous ; our eyes and noses are 
deformed ; our hair (unless it is black) looks diseased ; 
our language — even if we profess to speak Chinese 
— is strangely uncouth ; and the particular blandish- 
ments we attempt are not of the kind to which they 
are accustomed, or to which they know how to re- 
spond. There is no use in saying "goo-goo" to an 
infant that expects to be addressed with a conciliating 
" fo-fo " ; nor should we be surprised if we fail to 
win the approval of a shy Chinese youngster by 
talking to him on the topics that would rouse the 
interest of the twentieth-century English schoolboy. 
As likely as not he will remain stolidly indifferent, 
and will stare at his well-meaning interlocutor with 
a disconcerting lack — or apparent lack — of intelli- 
gence. No wonder is it that the mortified foreigner 
often goes away complaining that Chinese children 
are ugly, stupid, horrid and ungracious little urchins 
and that he will never try to make friends with 
them again. 

Even distance does not seem to lend much enchant- 
ment to the Chinese child from the European point 
of view. He is commonly caricatured somewhat after 
this fashion : he never smiles ; he has hardly any 
nose and possesses oblique eyes that are almost 
invisible ; he wears too many clothes in winter, so 
that he looks like an animated plum-pudding; he 
wears too little in summer — his birthday dress, to be 
explicit — and looks like a jointed wooden doll ; he has 
a horror of "romping"; he is unwashed, deceitful 
and cruel ; he cultivates a solemnity of demeanour 
with the view of leading people to think he is pre- 
cociously wise and preternaturally good ; and he is 
always mouthing philosophic saws from Confucius 
which he has learned by rote and of which he neither 
knows nor wants to know the meaning. Of course 
there is much in this description that is totally false j 


and misleading, but it is not difficult to see the super- 
ficial characteristics that may give such a caricature 
a certain amount of plausibility. 

To form a true idea of what Chinese children really 
are we must take them unawares among their own 
people, if we are fortunate enough to have oppor- 
tunities of doing so. We must go into the country 
fields and villages and see them at work and play ; 
we must watch them at their daily round of duties 
and pleasures, at school (one of the old-fashioned 
schools if possible), in times of sickness and pain, 
on occasions of festivals, family gatherings, weddings 
and funerals. The more we see of them in their own 
houses and surrounded by their own relatives the 
better we shall understand them and the more we 
shall like them. They are highly intelligent, quick 
to see the merry side of things, brimful of healthy 
animal spirits, and exceedingly companionable. This 
applies not only to the boys but also in a smaller 
degree to the girls, who, however, are much less 
talkative than they come to be in later years and are 
apt to be more timid and shy than their little brothers. 
They are terribly handicapped by the cruel custom 
of foot-binding, which it is earnestly to be hoped will 
before long be utterly abolished throughout China. 
It has undoubtedly caused a far greater aggregate 
amount of pain and misery in China than has been 
produced by opium-smoking. In spite of the cruelty 
involved in foot-binding, the rather common impres- 
sion that the Chinese have no affection for their 
daughters or regard the birth of a girl as a domestic 
calamity is very far from correct. That a son is 
welcomed with greater joy than a daughter is true, 
but that a daughter is not welcomed at all is a view 
which is daily contradicted by experience. Mothers, 
especially, are often as devoted to their girls as they 
are to their boys. In the autumn of 1909 a headman 
reported to me that a woman of his village had killed 
herself because she was distracted with grief on 


account of the death of her child. The child in 
question was a girl, fourteen years of age. " Her 
mother," said the headman, " begged Heaven {Lao 
T^ien-ycJi) to bring her daughter back to life, and 
she declared that she would willingly give her life 
in exchange for that of her daughter." It is erroneous 
to suppose that the old loving relations between 
mother and daughter are necessarily severed on the 
daughter's marriage. It is often the case that a 
young married woman's greatest happiness consists 
in periodical visits to her old home. 

On the whole it may be said that Chinese children 
are neither better nor worse, neither more nor less 
delightful, than the children of the West, and that 
child-nature is much the same all the world over. 
Among their most conspicuous qualities are their 
good-humour and patience. Chinese children bear 
illness and pain like little heroes. This need not 
be ascribed entirely to the oft-asserted cause that 
" Chinese have no nerves," though indeed there is 
good reason to believe that the people of the West 
(perhaps owing to the relaxing effects of a pampering 
civilisation) are considerably more sensitive to physical 
suffering than the people of the Orient. Another 
interesting characteristic of Chinese children consists 
in the fact that good manners very often appear, 
at first sight, to be innate rather than acquired. 
Even illiterate children, and the children of illiterate 
parents, seem to behave with a politeness and grace 
of manner towards their elders and superiors (more 
particularly, of course, those of their own race) which 
they certainly have not learned by direct teaching. 
A well-bred European child sometimes gives one 
the impression that he has learned his exemplary 
"manners" as a lesson, just as he learns the tribu- 
taries of the Ouse or the dates of the kings. The 
most remarkable point about the Chinese child's 
"manners" is the grace and ease with which he 
displays them and the entire absence of mauvaise 


honte. No doubt the truth of the matter is that cour- 
tesy is no more a natural quaHty in the Chinese than 
in other races. The average peasant's child in north 
China, who is always treated with what seems to us 
excessive indulgence — being allowed to run wild and 
hardly ever punished for his childish acts of " naughti- 
ness" and disobedience — grows up a devoted and 
obedient son and most courteous and conciliatory, as 
a rule, in his dealings with the outside world ; but 
these graces were not born in him except possibly 
in the merely potential form of hereditary predisposi- 
tion. He has acquired them unconsciously through 
the medium of that "endless imitation" which, as 
Wordsworth said, seems at times to be the "whole 
vocation " of a healthy child. Doubtless he learns 
the forms of politeness to some extent from his 
schoolmaster — and indeed if ethical teaching can make 
a good boy, then the educated Chinese boy should be 
perfect ; but that school teaching is not everything 
is proved by the fact that in a poor country-district 
like Weihaiwei, where only a small proportion of the 
children go to school, there is no essential difference 
in "manners " between the lettered and the ignorant, 
though the educated are of course quicker in intel- 
ligence and more adaptable. 

Perhaps the explanation of the matter is that in 
China the adult's life and the child's life are not 
kept too far apart from each other, so that the child 
has endless opportunities of indulging his imitative 
faculties to the utmost. Children live in the bosom 
of the family, and it is very rarely indeed that their 
natural high spirits are frowned down with the chill- 
ing remark that " little boys should be seen and not 
heard." Strange to say, the sparing of the rod does 
not seem to have the effect of spoiling the Chinese 
child, who is not more troublesome or unruly than 
the average European child. The Chinese, indeed, 
have a proverb which shows that they, too, under- 
stand the value of occasional corporal punishment : 


" From the end of the rod pops forth a filial son." 
But the rod is allowed to become very dusty in most 
Chinese homes, and the filial son seems to come all 
the same. 

Female infanticide is not practised in Weihaiwei. 
The only infants ever made away v/ith arc the off- 
spring of illicit connections, and in such cases no 
difference is made between male and female. A young 
woman who has been seduced is — or was till recent 
years — practically compelled to destroy her illegitimate 
child ; her own life would become insupportable other- 
wise, and she would probably be driven to suicide. 
The voice of the people would be unanimous against 
the Government if it caused the mother in such sl 
case to be prosecuted on a charge of homicide, 
although her own female relations and neighbours 
often treat her so unmercifully as a result of her fall 
that she sometimes chooses to die by her own hand 
rather than submit to their ceaseless revilings. 

Chinese law strongly supports the sanctity of the 
home and is very severe on unfaithful wives, but it 
regards the killing of an illegitimate child as a very 
light offence, — indeed case-made law regards it as no 
offence at all provided the killing be done at the 
time of the child's birth or before it. Fortunately 
cases of this kind in Weihaiv/ei are very rare. But 
the poorest classes have one most objectionable 
custom which seems to be strangely inconsistent with 
the undoubted fondness of parents for their children. 
This is the practice of throwing away or exposing the 
bodies of children who have died in infancy or in very 
early childhood. This seems to indicate an extra- 
ordinary degree of callousness in the natures of the 
people. How a mother can fondle her child lovingly 
and watch over it with the utmost care and unselfish- 
ness when it is sick, and yet can bear to see its little 
body thrown into an open ditch or left on a hillside 
to become the prey of w^olves or the village dogs, is 
perhaps one of those mysterious anomalies in which 


the Chinese character is said to abound. Even New 
Guinea babies are treated after death with more 
respect than is sometimes the case in China.' Need- 
less to say the British Government has not remained 
inactive in the matter, and the man who now refrains 
from giving his infant child decent burial knows that 
he runs a risk of punishment. 

The only excuses that can be made for the people 
in this respect are not based on their poverty (for 
poverty does not prevent them from burying their 
adult relatives with all proper decorum) but on their 
theory that an infant " does not count " in the scheme 
of family and ancestral relationships. No mourning 
of any kind is worn for children who die under the 
age of about eight, and only a minor degree of mourn- 
ing for older children who die unmarried and un- 
marriageable. Even when a young child's body is 
given a place in the family burial-ground care is 
always taken to choose a grave-site that is not likely 
to be selected for the burial of any senior,'^ for it is 
considered foolish and unnecessary to waste good 
feng-shui on a mere child, who has left no descendants 
whose fortunes it can influence. 

Young children are not indeed regarded as soul- 
less,^ for there are touching ceremonies whereby a 
mother seeks to recall the soul of her child when it 
seems likely to fly away for ever ; but child-spirits 
are not supposed to exercise any control over the 
welfare of the family. They never " grow up " in 
the spirit-world, but merely remain infant ghosts, 
powerful in nothing. The ancestral temples preserve 
no records of dead children nor are their names 
inscribed on spirit tablets. This is very different 
from the state of things existing among a race that 

* See Grant Allen's The Evolution of the Idea 0/ God, pp. 52 and 69. 

* See p. 266. 

' According to the Fijian Islanders the souls of the unmarried are 
soon extinguished in the Under-world. See Tylor's Primitive Culture 
(4th ed.), vol. ii. p, 23. 


is ethnically far inferior to the Chinese, namely the 
Vaeddas of Ceylon, who pay special attention to " the 
shades of departed children, the 'infant spirits,'"^ and 
often call upon them for aid in times of unhappiness 
or calamity. 

Fortunately the average child in Weihaiwei is an 
exceedingly healthy little piece of humanity and is 
not in the habit of worrying about the ultimate fate 
of either his body or his soul. He derives pleasure 
from the knowledge that he is loved by his elders, 
and in his rather undemonstrative way he loves them 
in return. He lives on simple fare that European 
children would scorn, but it is only the poorest of 
the poor whose children cannot chUh pao (eat as much 
as they like) at least once a day. A villager in 
Weihaiwei who gave his children too little to eat 
would probably hear highly unflattering opinions 
about himself from his next-door neighbours, and to 
''save his face" he would be obliged to show less 
parsimony in matters of diet. That under-feeding 
cannot be common in Weihaiwei except in times of 
actual famine is proved not only by the excellent 
health and spirits of the children but by the fine 
physical development of the adults and the great age 
often attained by them. 

We are told by many observers that theory and 
practice in China are often widely divergent, but in 
one matter at least they absolutely coincide. The 
Chinese hold that the greatest treasure their country 
can possess consists not in gold and silver, mines 
and railways, factories and shipping, but in an ever- 
increasing army of healthy boys and girls — the future 
fathers and mothers of the race. If the family decays 
the State decays ; if the family prospers the State 
prospers : for what is the State but a vast aggregate 
of families ? What indeed is the Emperor himself but 
the Father of the State and thus the Patriarch of 
every family within it ? This is the Chinese theory, 

' Tylor, oJ> cit , vol. ii. p. 1 17. 

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and there is hardly a man in China who does not 
do his best to prove by practical demonstration that 
the theory is a correct one. " Lo, children are an 
heritage of the Lord," sings the Psalmist ; " Happy is 
the man that hath his quiver full of them." The 
average Chinese peasant must be a very happy man. 



Not the most unobservant visitor to China can fail 
to notice the ubiquity of graveyards. In Western 
countries one is usually obliged to ask the way to a 
cemetery; in China one finds the way by merely walking 
in any direction one pleases. Nowhere so vividly as in 
China does one realise that not only the path of glory 
but every other kind of path leads but to a grave. The 
sight is sometimes a melancholy one ; as dreary as 
some of the city churchyards in England are the vast 
cemeteries for the poor that cover the bare hillsides in 
the neighbourhood of many great Chinese cities. The 
omega-shaped tombs of south China are apt, moreover, 
to appal one by their vastness and too often by the 
barren cheerlessness of their surroundings. But there 
is nothing dismal in the family graveyards that dot the 
valleys of the country districts in the north. Indeed, 
in a region like the north-eastern extremity of Shan- 
tung, where there is of course no tropical vegetation 
and where timber is scarce, the wooded graveyards 
form one of the pleasantest features in every landscape. 
If while walking across the fields of the Weihaiwei 
Territory one comes across a thick plantation of trees — 
such as the fir and the Chinese oak, which is never 
leafless — one is sure to find that it marks the last 
resting-place of a family or a clan that inhabits or once 

inhabited some village not far away. The plantation is 



surrounded by no wall or fence of any kind ; such would 
be a useless precaution, for no one — except an occa- 
sional rascal who " fears neither God nor man " — will 
knowingly injure a funereal tree or otherwise violate the 
sanctity of the home of the dead. At the first glance 
the tombs may not be visible, for the tree branches are 
almost interlaced, and in summer-time nearly every 
grave has its own canopy of foliage ; moreover, instead 
of the omega or horse-shoe tombs of the south we find 
only little hillocks and unpretentious gravestones. 

A Chinese grave in Weihaiwei is not indeed very 
different in appearance — looked at from afar — from a 
grave in Europe ; though instead of the long mound 
in front of an inscribed stone we find in Weihaiwei a 
circular or sometimes oval-shaped mound behind the 
stone, which is an upright whitish block with very 
little ornamentation. The inscription usually contains 
nothing more (in modern times) than names and dates 
and position in the family. The names of husband 
and wife are inscribed on the same stone — for the two 
are always buried in the same grave, the wife's coffin 
being placed on the right of the husband's.^ On the 
stone are frequently carved the names of the surviving 
members of the family by whom it has been erected. 
These are always persons in the direct line of descent ; 
or, if the deceased left no heirs of his body, his 
adopted son. The translation of a typical inscription 
will be found on the next page. 

It is not customary to erect a tombstone soon after 
a burial; the mound is sufficient to indicate to the 
family the exact position of the grave, and all necessary 
dates and names are carefully entered on the pedigree- 
scroll or inscribed on the ancestral tablets. In front 
of each grave will often be seen a small stone altar or 
pedestal or a stone incense-jar. Here are offered up 
the ancestral sacrifices at the festivals of Ch'ing-Ming 

' That is to say, the wife's body lies at the right side of the husband's ; 
thus the husband, as head of the family, is given the left side — the 
place of honour. 



and the first of the tenth moon.^ At one extremity of 
the graveyard will often be found a large upright stone 
slab on which is engraved in deep bold characters the 
name of the family to which all the tombs belong. 
The inscription is as simple as possible, usually con- 









This Stone is erected on the twelfth day of the second 
month of the first year of Hsiian T'ung (March 
3, 1909) by Yao Feng-lai, a son, Yao Yiieh-i, a 
grandson, and Yao Wan-nien, a great-grandson 


sisting of four Chinese characters. Chon SJiih Tsu 
Ying^ — to take an example — may be rendered 


Most of the graveyards (ying ti) are very old, and as 
the centuries pass, the inscriptions on the oldest monu- 
ments naturally tend to become illegible or the stones 
themselves are displaced and broken by the roots of 

' See pp. 186-7, 192. 
* See illustration. 

p. 256.] 


trees or other natural causes. At the periodical sacri- 
fices, however, care is taken to neglect no grave that is 
recognisable as such. In order to make sure that none 
of the ancestral spirits will be left uncared for, sacri- 
ficial offerings are made to the souls of the ancestors in 
general as well as to the immediate predecessors of the 
sacrificers. The usual expression used in Weihaiwei 
for a ceremonial visit to the family grave is shang fen, 
" to go up to the tombs." ^ 

A graveyard is very often completely surrounded by 
cultivated fields. As a general rule these fields are the 
property of a branch of the family that owns the 
graveyard, but sometimes the family has emigrated to 
another part of the country or has had to part with 
this portion of its arable acres, so that it has passed 
into the hands of strangers. But the graveyard itself 
is never forgotten and never alienated. No matter to 
what distance the family may have moved, it will never 
lose touch with the spot where lie the bones of its 
ancestors — the spot to which its members all expect 
that their bodies will some day be carried. Year by 
year one or more members of the family will be sent 
to carry out the traditional sacrificial ceremonies, to 
"sweep" the tombs and to see that the ploughs of 
strangers have not encroached upon the sacred 

The most interesting tombs in Weihaiwei, from the 
visitor's point of view, are those known to the English 
as Beehive graves.- All or nearly all those on which 
the inscriptions are legible show that they were 
erected in the Yiian dynasty (1280- 1367) or the early 
Ming dynasty, which came to the throne in 1368. 
None are of modern date, though in many cases the 

' Expressions such as pat sao (the extended meaning of which is "to 
make obeisance to the ancestral spirits and to sweep the tombs ") are 
also well known. In southern China {e.g. at Canton) perhaps the 
commonest term is /rt/j/z^zw, "to worship (at) the hills" — where in that 
part of the Empire the majority of the graves are situated. 

* See illustration. 



places in which they are found are still the family 
burial-grounds of the direct descendants of the people 
to whose memory they were erected. This handsome 
form of tombstone has fallen into complete disuse, and 
the people account for its former use by the explana- 
tion that in the old days the country w^as overrun 
with wolves and other wild beasts and that it was 
necessary to erect massive piles of masonry over the 
graves to protect them from desecration. These tombs 
somewhat resemble Buddhist stupas or Lamaist clwrten; 
most of them have panels artistically carved with 
figures of animals, human beings and conventional 
plants and devices of various kinds. Very often the 
carving on a panel represents the tomb itself in minia- 
ture, with mourners or worshippers kneeling round it. 
The whole structure is made of heavy blocks of stone, 
the general design consisting of a large dome sur- 
mounted by a Buddhistic lotus or a conventional spire 
and superimposed upon a panelled pedestal. 

Every graveyard is ** managed " by the elders of the 
clan, who draw up rules for general upkeep and the 
allotment of grave-sites. Sometimes the different 
branches of the family are allowed to take turns in 
keeping the graveyard in proper order and in super- 
intending the sacrifices, in return for which services 
the caretakers are allowed to derive a little profit 
from a periodical grass-cutting and pruning of trees ; 
sometimes, too, they are put in temporary and con- 
ditional possession of an area of arable land out of 
the proceeds of which they are often expected not 
only to look after the graveyard but also to keep in 
repair the chia miao or Family Temple. Acrimonious 
disputes occasionally arise among relatives as to who 
has the best right or whose turn has arrived to enjoy 
the use of these " sacrificial " lands, and sometimes a 
whole clan brings an action against one of its branches 
for refusing to give them up when it has had its turn. 
But after all, though such disputes provide trouble- 
some work for the British magistrate whose duty it is 


to administer " local custom," the system as a general 
rule works very smoothly. 

In dealing with village life we saw that most villages 
have their police regulations,^ in accordance with 
which they impose fines on those who have been 
guilty of misconduct. Special regulations are often 
considered necessary for the adequate protection of 
the family graveyards. One set of such is now before 
me, and runs as follows : 

" The following list of penalties for offences con- 
nected with the ancestral graveyard is drawn up and 
unanimously agreed upon by the entire village of the 
Tsou family : 

Cutting or mutilating trees without 

authority 10 tiao. 

Cutting grass or shrubs ... 5 tiao. 

Pasturing cattle, donkeys or mules . 5 tiao. 

** This list of penalties is to be preserved in the 
Ancestral Temple of the Tsou family." 

It will be observed that no penalty is assigned for 
the offence of damaging the actual graves, this being 
an offence which is almost unknown ; though a man 
was once charged before me by the whole of his 
fellow-villagers with the offence of digging up and 
levelling an old grave {chilch p'ing kit fen). It was 
admitted by the prosecutors that the grave in question 
was very ancient and that the branch of the family to 
which it belonged had long been extinct. The fact 
that the whole village made a point of denouncing 
their sacrilegious neighbour (who had hoped to extend 
the boundaries of his arable land by encroaching on 
a corner of the graveyard that no one seemed to want) 
shows how heinous a crime it is in China to disturb the 
resting-places even of the unknown dead. Sometimes 
the regulations are cut on a great stone slab which 

* See pp. 160 seq. 


is set up within the graveyard itself. If no definite 
regulations have been agreed upon, the custom, when 
the sanctity of a graveyard has been violated, is for the 
elders of the clan to meet in council and decide the 
case according to circumstances. If the convicted 
man refuses to accept the punishment pronounced 
upon him, or if he belongs to another village or clan, 
the matter usually comes before the magistrate. 

A case arising out of the theft of some graveyard 
trees was lately submitted to my decision owing to 
the truculent behaviour of the malefactor, who refused 
to submit to the headmen's judgment. After inves- 
tigating the circumstances I sentenced him to pay a 
fine of ten dollars, which was to be applied to the 
upkeep of the ancestral temple ; to plant three times 
the number of trees that he had cut down ; and to 
erect a stone tablet within the graveyard at his own 
expense setting forth the offence of which he had 
been guilty and enlarging upon the severe punish- 
ments that would befall others who attempted in future 
to commit like misdeeds. 

Another case was brought before me by a man who 
accused a stranger of cutting up a dead donkey within 
his family graveyard. The defendant's excuse was 
that while passing the graveyard his donkey had 
suddenly taken ill and died, and that he dragged it 
in among the trees in order to avoid incommoding 
the public by skinning and slicing the animal on the 
roadside. Donkeys, it may be mentioned, are not 
ordinary articles of diet, but few Chinese can bring 
themselves to throw awa}'' flesh that by any stretch of 
the imagination can be regarded as edible ; hence it is 
quite usual to eat the remains of cattle and donkeys 
that die of old age or even of disease. The plaintiff^'s 
plea in this suit was not that the defendant was pre- 
paring for human consumption food that was unfit to 
eat, but that the defendant had selected his graveyard 
for use as a butcher's shop. He objected, reasonably 
enough, to having his ancestors' tombs bespattered 


with the blood of a dead donkey. The defendant was 
required to offer a public apology to the plaintiff and 
to pay him a moderate sum as compensation ; and the 
plaintiff left the court a contented man. 

The mode of punishment often chosen by the elders 
for offences connected with graveyards is to compel 
the accused to make an expiatory offering to the dead 
whose spirits he is supposed to have offended. A 
man who " cut branches from the family graveyard 
for his own use " was recently sentenced by his clan 
to present himself at the graveyard in an attitude of 
humility and to offer up a sacrifice of pork and vege- 
tables. The custom in such cases is that after the 
dead have consumed their part of the sacrifice (that is 
to say, the spiritual or immaterial and invisible part) 
the remainder is divided up among, the chief families 
concerned or eaten at a clan feast. 

A curious custom analogous to this of serving up 
hog-flesh as an expiatory offering to the spirits to 
whom the graveyard and its trees are sacred is to 
be found in Roman literature. " Cato," as Dr. Tylor 
reminds us/ "instructs the woodman how to gain 
indemnity for thinning a holy grove ; he must offer 
a hog in sacrifice with this prayer, ' Be thou god or 
goddess to whom this grove is sacred, permit me, by 
the expiation of this pig, and in order to restrain the 
overgrowth of this wood, etc., etc'' The two customs 
are not true parallels, however, for the Chinese offers 
his sacrifice to the spirits of his ancestors as an atone- 
ment for the offence of cutting trees which he normally 
regards as the inviolable property of the dead or as 
associated with them in some mysterious way ; whereas 
the Roman offered his sacrifice to a grove which was 
in itself sacred as being the abode of gods or dryads. 
We shall see later on^ that tree-worship still finds 
a place in the Chinese religious system and is not 

* Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 227. Dr. Tylor quotes from 
Cato, De Re Rustica, 139 ; Pliny, .wii. 47. 

* See pp. 382 seq. 


extinct even in Weihaiwei, but it would be a mistake 
to regard the veneration shown for the trees of 
a family graveyard as evidence of such worship. 
Even if the custom of planting a graveyard with 
trees had in remote times a common origin with 
tree-worship (which is at least doubtful) there is 
no evidence whatever to support the view that 
graveyard trees are regarded as sacred in them- 
selves at the present time. An obvious reason for 
planting trees in a graveyard would seem to be 
that it facilitated the protection of the graves from 
the encroachments of the plough ; but the custom is 
more probably derived from the ancient superstition 
that certain trees communicate their preservative 
qualities to the human remains that lie below them 
or impart a kind of vitality or vigour to the spirits 
of the dead. 

This matter has been ably and thoroughly discussed 
by Dr. De Groot/ who shows convincingly that " since 
very ancient times pines and cypresses have played 
a prominent part as producers of timber for coffins, 
and that this was the case because these trees, being 
believed to be imbued with great vitality, might 
counteract the putrefaction of the mortal remains." 
The same cause that made such timber valuable for 
coffins made it valuable for graveyards. The super- 
stition is connected with the ancient Chinese philo- 
sophic doctrine of the Yaug and the Yin — the 
complementary forces and qualities which pervade 
all nature, such as male and female, light and dark, 
warmth and cold, activity and passivity, positive and 
negative, life and death. It was supposed that all 

1 The Religious System of China, vol. ii. pp. 462 seq. See also vol. i. 
pp. 294 seq., and p. 348, where Dr. De Groot mentions " the conception 
that if a body is properly circuravested by objects and wood imbued 
with Yang matter, or, in other words, with the same sheft afflatus of 
which the soul is composed, it will be a seat for the manes even after 
death, a support to which the manes may firmly adhere and thus pre- 
vent their nebulous, shadowy being from evaporating and suffering 


evergreens must have a greater store of the yang 
element (life, vitality) than other trees, because they 
retain their foliage through the winter ; and of ever- 
green trees those prized most by the Chinese for their 
life-giving qualities were and are the fir and the 
cypress.^ Therefore by planting these trees in their 
graveyards and in the courtyards of their ancestral 
temples the Chinese supposed they would endow their 
ancestors (apparently both their dead bodies and their 
living spirits) with a never-failing preservative against 
decay and dissolution. The result of this on them- 
selves — the living descendants of the dead — must be, 
it was thought, a constant flow of happiness and good 

It will be remembered that ancestor-worship is not 
merely regarded as a method of showing love and 
reverence for the dead but is believed to induce the 
ancestral spirits to protect and watch over the family 
and to bestow on its members long life, many children 
and general prosperity. The more abundant the 
vitality (if one may speak of the vitality of a ghost) 
that can be imparted to the ancestral spirits, the better 
able will they be (so goes the theory) to exert them- 
selves on behalf of the fortunes of their posterity ; and 
the best way to impart vitality (that is, the yang 
element) to the spirits is to surround their coffins 
and their ancestral tablets with as many ji'(7;/§--supply- 
ing agencies as possible. The original theory of 
the matter is probably extinct at Weihaiwei if not 
everywhere else ; trees are planted and protected 
in the family temples and graveyards for no known 
reason except that it is the traditional custom to do 

^ "The ancient Chinese, as well as Pliny, must have observed that 
pinus et cupressus adversiini cariem tineasqiie firniissimae. (Hist. 
Nat. xvi.) These trees being in fact more proof against the ravages 
of air, weather and insects than perhaps any other growing on the soil 
of the Empire, it is natural enough that the inhabitants thereof ascribed 
their strong constitution to the large amount of vital power in their 
wood." — De Groot, Religious Systetn of China, vol. i. p. 295. 


so^: yet it is noteworthy that the cypress is still 
the favourite tree in the grounds of the ancestral 
temples, that the fir is still considered one of the best 
trees to plant in a graveyard, and that the pedigree- 
scrolls preserved among the archives of every family 
are often decorated with the painting of an ever- 
green tree.^ 

There are still persons in the Territory of Wei- 
haiwei and its neighbourhood who call themselves 
yin-yang hsien-sheng, that is, professors of the 
principles of yin and yciug. Their functions are 
much the same as those of the feng-shui hsien-sheng 
or Masters in Geomancy.^ As professional attendants 
at funerals their business is to see that all the arrange- 
ments are so carried out as to give every chance for 
the "vital essences" (y(ing) to assert themselves and 
to keep the dark and languid essences (yin) in their 

■ In ancient Egypt the cemeteries were overshadowed by thick 
sycamores ; and probably in nearly every country the planting of trees 
and shrubs (or flowering plants) on the graves of the dead is or has 
been a common practice. There is no necessity to ascribe the custom 
to a single origin. The mere desire to differentiate the grave from the 
surrounding tract of land is sufficient to explain the planting of a tree 
or a grove of trees on or near the funeral mound. The cypress, as 
every one knows, was and is a funereal tree in Europe as well as in 
China. That this was so in Roman times we know from classical 
literature. For some remarks on the cypress in connection with Euro- 
pean folk-lore, see the Folk-loi'e Journal, vol. iii. (1885) p. 144. See 
also Sir Thomas Browne's Ur?i-Burial, ch. iv. para. 3, where it is 
remarked " that, in strewing their tombs, the Romans affected the rose ; 
the Greeks, amaranthus and myrtle : that the funeral pyre consisted of 
sweet fuel, cypress, fir, larix, yew and trees perpetually verdant." He 
adds that these flowers and trees were intended to be silent expressions 
of the hopes of the survivors ; and that " Christians, who deck their 
coffins with bays, have found a more elegant emblem ; for that tree, 
seeming dead, will restore itself from the root, and its dry and exsuccous 
leaves resume their verdure again ; which, if we mistake not, we have 
also observed in furze. Whether the planting of yew in churcliyards 
hold not its original from ancient funeral rites, or as an emblem of 
resurrection, from its perpetual verdure, may also admit conjecture." 

^ See illustration. 

^ See pp. 118 seq. 

' --^ ^iwJjwff i itf Pf i pifP ^fippifiiBPiPPrTyi 1 1 n n f I f t fi { \ ■:a:' 

-»,'-.t' •"'4.*^:- 

^^,.- ^1^ 


r-iii / 

^i ^ W 





Inth ^"^^ 

i ^' 



6- ( it ^i;>'-^' 


p. 264] 


proper position of subordination. They select the 
propitious moment for starting the procession, for 
lowering the coffin into the grave and for every other 
act of importance in connection with the funeral ; to 
them also is left — within limits — the selection of a 
favourable position for the grave.' The rules oi feng- 
shui are complicated in the extreme ; an error of a few 
feet in judging of the precisely favourable spot may 
completely shut off all the yang influences and let in 
all the yin influences with a rush, in which case— so 
it is supposed by believers — the family is doomed 
to misfortune and will probably before long become 

A southern aspect is supposed to be generally the 
most favourable for a graveyard, for the south is 
yang whereas the north is yin ; but other influences 
and conditions have to be taken into account as well — 
such as the contour of the neighbouring hills, the 
direction of valleys and streams, the proximity of 
human habitations, and many other things : so that 
a graveyard that has a northern aspect but possesses 
first-rate geomantic conditions in other respects is 
often far superior from the point of view of the pro- 
fessors of yin-yang and feng-shui to a graveyard 
that has a southern aspect but happens to be over- 
looked by a badly-shaped hill or is near a river that 
has too many bends or flows the wrong way. Within 
the graveyard itself the good influences are not 
supposed to concentrate themselves solely and per- 
manently on one spot ; if that were so, the first 
people to die after the selection of the graveyard 
would obviously get all the best positions. 

The date and hour of death, the date of intended 
burial, the age and sex and star-influences of the 
deceased, and many variable local and temporary 
circumstances all have to be taken into consideration 

' The services of these persons is by no means always considered 
necessary in W^eihaiwei. Faith in the " science " of fettg-shui is much 
less strong here than in many other parts of the Empire, 


before the hsien-sheng can advise his client as to the 
best possible site for any required grave. Certain 
parts of the graveyard are always more " honourable" 
(in the heraldic sense) than others from the point 
of view of family precedence and seniority. The 
back, centre and front portions of the ground are 
reserved for married couples who have left children 
and therefore take an honoured place in the family 
pedigree, whereas members of the family who have 
died unmarried or in childhood are either not ac- 
commodated in the family graveyard at all, or, if 
admitted, they are buried close to the right or the left 
boundary. A villager was once brought before me 
on the charge of having buried his dead infant, a child 
of two years old, in a part of the graveyard that was 
reserved for its dignified elders. As it is advisable 
in such matters to uphold local custom I felt re- 
luctantly obliged to order the man to remove his 
child's body to that part of the graveyard which is 
regarded as appropriate for those who have died in 

If a family has had a long run of misfortune or 
misery and sees no way of extricating itself from its 
difficulties, it will sometimes try to throw the blame 
on its graveyard : not, of course, on the spirits of 
its ancestors but merely on the unpropitious influences 
that hang round the sites of the family tombs. The 
only possible remedy in such a case is to employ 
a lisicn-shcng to study the geomantic conditions of the 
locality and advise as to what can be done to improve 
them. He is almost sure to agree with his employers 
that their surmise is correct and that the badly-situated 
graveyard is the cause of all their woes, for he will 
then be able to proceed to the lucrative task of 
selecting a new graveyard-site and superintending 
the removal of the graves. The only case of this i 
nature that has come within my personal experience 
is interesting as throwing a light on the Jisicii-shcngs , 
method of work. It is probable that many other cases ! 


have occurred even in Weihaiwei, but as geomantic 
superstitions are frowned upon by Chinese law, and 
the unnecessary removal of graves on the plea of 
finding better feng-slmi is a penal offence, yin-yang 
professors naturally ply their trade with as little 
ostentation as possible. 

A man whom we will call Chang Ying-mu brought 
an action against some of his neighbours for denying 
him the right to move certain of his ancestors' graves 
from their present unlucky site to one that had been 
specially selected for him after deep consideration by 
a professor of yinyang and fcng-shiii. " I have 
been very unfortunate in business," he said; "I dealt 
in opium at Chefoo and used to get on very well ; 
but this new anti-opium fad has ruined me. I came 
home recently and brought with me a hsien-sheng who 
is a native of Fu-shan Hsien [the magisterial district 
in which Chefoo is situated] in order to consult him 
about my ancestral graves, as 1 had suspicions that 
it was due to the bad feng-sJini of the graveyard 
that I had been landed in so many difficulties. The 
hsien-sheng saw at once that the present site was very 
bad. He said that nothing could be done to improve 
the feng-shui and that I must move all the graves 
to another place. The spot he has chosen happens 
to be not far from the houses of Tsou Heng-li and 
Tsou Yii-ch'eng and many other villagers ; and they 
at once raised objections to the proposed site on the 
ground that they would see the graves on coming 
out of their houses, which they said would be unlucky. 
1 suggested planting a row of trees between their 
houses and my graves, but they refused to accept 
this arrangement. I then offered to build a stone wall 
as a screen, and to write * Happiness ' and * Long 
Life ' in large characters on the side of it that would 
face the defendants' houses, but the hsien-sheng objects 
to this as the wall would obstruct the free circulation 
of good feng-shui round my new graves. 1 have 
already acquired the new site by exchanging another 


piece of land for it, and now that I have got it my 
neighbours prevent me from using it." 

The defendants Tsou Heng-li and others presented 
a counter-petition to the following effect. " The hsien- 
sheiig^ whose name is said to be Hsiao, is a stranger 
to our village and he is quite evidently a rascal. He 
falsely pretended to be skilled in feng-shui in order to 
swindle Chang Ying-mu out of his money. He told 
Chang that if he moved his ancestral graves to the 
new site indicated he would guarantee that Chang 
would acquire wealth and honours within the space 
of three years. We all raised the strongest objections 
to the proposal, partly because Hsiao was a rogue 
and partly because the new site was practically in 
the middle of the village, which is quite an improper 
place for graves. The luck of our village would 
certainly be damaged if part of it were turned into 
a graveyard, Hsiao's only reply to us was that he 
was learned in the P'ing-yang books of Chiang-nan 
and that we were children in such deep matters. 
We fail to see why the customs of the Chiang-nan 
provinces should be made applicable to our province 
of Shantung. We appeal to the Magistrate to rid us 
of this pestilent fellow and so allow our village to 
resume its normal life." 

Hisiao himself, who was duly summoned to explain 
his own view of the situation, stated that he had 
selected the site because he saw from the situation 
that it would be productive of long life and honours 
and that if the coffins remained where they were 
Chang Ying-mu's family would in future have bad 
luck, no honours and short lives. *' My knowledge," 
he added on cross-examination, " is not derived from 
books but from the traditions of Chiang-nan." As I 
was anxious to obtain for my own information some 
clue to his methods and theories I called upon him to 
produce a clear statement on the subject in writing ; 
and having had him conveyed from the court in 
charge of the police, I reprimanded Chang Ying-mu 


for allowing himself to be deceived by a swindler and 
recommended him to leave his ancestors' graves where 
they were. I explained to him that the anti-opium 
regulations had been put in force in both British and 
Chinese territory quite irrespectively of his family 
concerns or his trading enterprises, and that they 
would unquestionably remain in force even if he 
moved his ancestral coffins a dozen times. The de- 
fendants were assured that in view of their very 
reasonable objections the court would certainly not 
allow their village to be turned into a graveyard. 

As far as plaintiff" and defendant were concerned the 
case was now at an end, but I had still to receive the 
professor's written statement. In a couple of days 
the document was duly presented, and may be 
translated thus : 

'* Statement showing cause why Chang Ying-mu's 
graveyard is unpropitiously situated and will cause 
misfortunes and early deaths ; and why the site now 
selected will be the source of a constant flow of happi- 
ness. As regards the present site : firstly, all along 
the front of the graveyard there is a gully as deep as 
the height of two men. This is unlucky. The deep 
gully presses against the tombs like a wall, obstruct- 
ing the passage of benign influences. This has a 
disastrous effect on the women of the family, who will 
have excessive difficulty in childbirth. Secondly, a 
small stream of water trickles from the graveyard and 
after flowing a distance of half a li it vanishes in the 
sand. The result of this on the family is that children 
are born as weaklings and die in infancy. Thirdl}^ 
another stream of water flows away to the north-east. 
This carries off" all the wealth-making capabilities of 
the family and the good qualities of sons and grand- 
sons. As regards the proposed new site : firstly, 
there are hills on the south-west, their direction being 
from east to west. Their formation so controls the 
courses of four streams that they all unite at the 
eastern corner of this site. Just as these streams of 
water come together and cannot again separate, so 
will riches and honours flow from various quarters 


and finally unite in the hands of the family that has its 
graveyard in this fortunate locality. Secondly, the 
ceaseless flow of water has formed a long sandbank, 
four feet high, on the southern and south-eastern sides 
of the site. Just as the water brings down innumer- 
able grains of sand and piles them up near the point 
where the waters meet, so will the family that buries 
its dead here be blessed with countless male de- 

Feng-shui is not a branch of knowledge that deserves 
encouragement, so I informed the professor that the 
explanations given in this illuminating document were 
interesting but unconvincing, and that if he did not 
withdraw from British territory within three days he 
would be sent to gaol as a rogue and vagabond. He 
forthwith returned to his native district and the grave- 
yard of the Chang family remained undisturbed. 

An incident of this kind affords proof, if such were 
necessary, that in keeping up the cult of ancestors and 
in devoting care and expense to the maintenance of 
the family tombs the Chinese are not actuated solely 
by feelings of filial piety and reverence for the dead. 
On the other hand it is equally clear from abundant 
evidence that self-interest and a desire for material 
prosperity are very far from being the sole source 
of ancestral worship. Some foreign critics have tried 
to show that it springs not from love and filial piety 
but from a dread of the ancestral spirits and a desire 
to propitiate them. This view, which has been con- 
demned as erroneous by those who are themselves 
ancestor-worshippers, is certainly a mistaken one. 
If, indeed, the average ancestor-worshipping Chinese 
did not suppose that some material benefit would 
accrue to him from carrying out the prescribed rites 
he would doubtless show a flagging zeal in their per- 
petuation. Even the average European, perhaps, j 
would grow a little weary of well-doing if he were 
informed on unimpeachable authority that in future j 
the promised rewards of virtuous conduct were to be 


withheld both on earth and in heaven and that a 

crown of glory was not for him. The average man, 

all the world over, is apt to show impatience if he is 

asked to be virtuous for the sole sake of virtue. Had 

the ancestral cult been founded on nothing but pure 

love, reverence and altruism, it might have been kept 

barely alive from generation to generation by a few 

of those rare and exalted souls who seem incapable of 

self-seeking, but it would never have attained universal 

observance throughout China; had it, on the other 

hand, been founded on nothing but fear, selfishness 

and desire for material gain, it might have become 

popular with the masses but it could never have 

earned, as it has earned, the enthusiastic approval of 

the noblest minds and loftiest characters that China 

has produced. Probably it is the very mingling of 

motives that has caused the cult of ancestors to take 

such deep root in the hearts of the people that it is 

to-day by far the most potent religious and social force 

to be found in the Empire. 

At the present day and for very many centuries 
past the cult of ancestors and the dutiful upkeep of 
the ancestral tombs have been regarded as inseparably 
combined : but it was not so always. If the ancient 
Book of Rites {Li Chi) is to be trusted, Confucius for 
many years of adult life did not know where his 
father's grave was, and apparently it was only on his 
mother's death that he took the trouble to find out. 
The same book, which dates from the first and second 
centuries b.c, also narrates a story of how Confucius's 
disciples reported to him that the tumulus over his 
mother's grave had collapsed owing to a heavy rain- 
fall; yet he merely remarked, with emotion, that 
" people did not repair tombs in the good old times," 
—an enigmatical remark that has been variously 

' See Legge's Li-ki, vol. i. p. 123 ; De Groot, Religious System of 
China, vol. ii. pp. 663-4 and 689 ; and Wang Ch'ung's Lun Hhtg, 
transl. by Prof. A. Forke, Part i. p. 197. 


These stories probably originated from the well- 
ascertained fact that Confucius — like most of the 
Chinese philosophers and sages — was very strongly 
opposed to lavish expenditure on coffins, graves and 
funerals. Confucius's teaching on the subject seems 
to have been practical and reasonable. He taught 
that the bodies of the dead should be treated with 
every possible respect but that the material interests 
of the living must not be sacrificed in order to confer 
some unnecessary and doubtful boon upon the dead. 
Needless to say he was strenuously opposed to the 
barbarous customs of entombing the living with the 
dead and of widow-immolation, customs which seem 
to have been practised in China from the seventh 
century b.c. if not from much earlier times and which 
did not become altogether extinct till the seventeenth 
century' of our era.^ 

But if Confucius did not lay overmuch stress on 
funerals and the preservation of tombs, he was 
emphatic on the subject of filial piety. The 
connection between Confucianism and ancestral 
worship must be dealt with when we are con- 
sidering the subject of Religion : it is therefore 
unnecessary to enlarge upon this important subject 
at present, beyond pointing out that filial piety — on 
which ancestral worship is based — was regarded 
by Confucius and his school as "the fountain from 
which all other virtues spring and the starting-point 
of all education."^ 

There is a well-known Chinese tract called the 
" Twenty-four Examples of Filial Piety " ^ which con- 
sists of short anecdotes of sons who made themselves 
illustrious by the exercise of this chief of virtues. 
Some of the examples recorded are worthy of sincere 
admiration, but many of the filial performances are 

' See De Groot, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 720 seq. 
* The Hsiao Ching (Classic of Filial Piety), chap. i. 
' A translation of it by Mr. Ivan Chen may be found in the 
"Wisdom of the East" series (John Murray: 1908). 


apt to strike an occidental reader as somewhat 
ridiculous. There is the famous story of Lao Lai-tzu, 
for instance, whose parents lived to such extreme old 
age that he was himself a toothless old man while 
they were both still alive. Conceiving it his duty to 
divert their attention from their weight of years and 
approaching end, he dressed himself up in the clothes 
of a child and danced and played about in his parents' 
presence with the object of making them think they 
were still a young married couple contemplating the 
innocent gambols of their infant son. Perhaps the 
most touching of these stories is that of Wang P'ou, 
whose mother happened to have an unconquerable 
dread of thunder and lightning. When she died 
she was buried in a mountain forest ; and thereafter, 
when a violent thunderstorm occurred, Wang P'ou, 
heedless of the wind and rain, would hurry to her 
grave and throw himself to his knees. " I am here 
to protect you, dear mother," he would say ; " do 
not be afraid." 

If the stories in this well-known collection strike 
one as chiefly remarkable for their quaintness and 
simplicity, it should be remembered that they were 
primarily intended for the edification of the young, 
who might fail to understand the nobler modes in 
which filial piety can display itself. How numerous 
are the recorded examples of this virtue in China and 
how highly it is esteemed may be realised from the 
fact that a special chapter in the official Annals of 
every magisterial district is devoted to a summary of 
the most conspicuous local instances of filial piety 
that have come under the notice of the authorities. 
The official accounts of Weihaiwei and the neigh- 
bouring districts are not exceptional in this respect. 
This corner of the Empire may have produced few 
great scholars but it is certainly not without its roll of 
filial sons. The finest example from an occidental 
point of view is perhaps that of Huang Chao-hsiian, 
the brave boy who went out willingly to die by his 



father's side. ^ Most of the other cases are of a type 
that appeals but slightly to the Western mind. 

Of Wang Yen-ming, a Weihaiwei man, we are told 
that he lived in a hut beside his parents' grave for 
three years. This was quite a common practice in the 
old days ; ^ the most famous example in history is that 
of Confucius's disciple Tzu Kung, who lived by the 
side of the Master's grave at Ch'u Fou for no less than 
six years. ^ But even this act of devotion was out- 
done by a man named Tung Tao-ming of the Sung 
dynasty, who is said to have caused himself to be 
buried alive for three days in his mother's grave. The 
story goes that when his family dug him out at the 
end of that period they found him still alive and quite 
well ; and he proceeded to build himself beside the 
grave a mat-shed in which he spent the rest of his life. ^ 
To return to the Weihaiwei story about Wang Yen- 
ming, it goes on to say that he mourned so much for 
his parents that he wept himself blind. However, a 
kind spirit visited him in a dream and rubbed his eyes 
with the juice or resin of a fir-tree, and this immediately 
restored his sight. It will be understood from what 
has been said with regard to firs and other evergreens * 
that owing to the abundance of the yaiig or vital 
element which they contain they are supposed to have 
marvellous healing as well as preservative qualities. 
For this reason the resin of such trees was believed to 
be one of the most valuable ingredients in the Taoists' 
elixir of life. 

The story of Wang concludes with the remark that 
his descendants became highly successful and attained 
exalted office : this, of course, as a result of his filial 
piety, which is always supposed to bring its reward 

' See p. 75. 

* See De Groot's Religious System of China, vol. ii. pp. 794 seq. 

^ A little shriue by the side of Confucius's grave now occupies the 
site of Tzu Kung's hut. 

•• De Groot, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 732. 

* See pp. 262 seq. 


sooner or later. Of Ch'en Kuo-hsiang, another local 
worthy, we are informed that he belonged to a family 
that was poor in material wealth but rich in virtue. 
His father when very old lost all his teeth and could 
not eat bean-porridge ; moreover, as he had a chronic 
cough he could not eat salt. For these reasons Ch'en 
never allowed either beans or salt to appear on the 
family dinner-table so long as his father lived. This 
act of filial piety may have had two motives : in the 
first place, if these delicacies were on the table the 
old man might be tempted to taste them, and this 
might result in his illness and death : in the second 
place, if he were persuaded to refrain from eating 
them his venerable heart might vex itself with the 
reflection that he was getting old and feeble and could 
not eat the same things as other people. Whatever 
Ch'en's dominant motive may have been he duly 
obtained his reward, for the local magistrate presented 
him with a scroll to hang over his door, bearing the 
words "A Filial Son." 



An essential point in the Chinese conception of Filial 
Piety is that a father's death does not set the son free 
from the obligations of duty and reverence : it merely 
changes the outward form or expression of those 
obligations. He can no longer watch over his father's 
physical welfare and anticipate his material wants, 
but he can still bring peace and happiness to his 
father's spirit by living an upright life and bringing 
glory and prosperity to the family. If his abilities 
or opportunities are not such as to enable him to 
earn for his father posthumous honours (such as the 
Emperor confers upon the ancestors of those who 
have deserved well of the State) it is probably within 
his power to preserve intact the inherited property, 
to keep the family temple and tombs in good repair, 
to carry out with propriety and reverence the orthodox 
ancestral rites during his own lifetime and to provide 
for their continuance during future generations by 
bringing up a family of his own. 

The Chinese belief with regard to the souls of the 
dead (or rather the ancient beliefs on which the 
ancestral ceremonies are based) are rather compli- 
cated. According to one doctrine every man has no 
less than ten souls, of which three aveyaiig and seven 
are yin •,'^ it is also said that what is called the hun- 

* See pp. 262 seg. 


soul goes to heaven, while the p^o soul descends into 
the earth. The most popular view appears to be that 
every man has three souls allotted to him : of these 
one remains in or around the tomb, another hovers 
about the ancestral tablet, while the third wanders 
away and, after amalgamating itself with other mys- 
terious forces, is finally reincarnated in another mortal 
body, which — unless the soul behaved very badly in 
its last incarnation — will be a human one. For the 
purpose of the ancestral cult the souls that are of 
importance are the grave-soul and the tablet-soul. 
The grave-soul receives its due share of "worship" 
at the great annual tomb-festivals of spring and 
autumn. The tablet-soul is supposed to take up its 
abode, by ceremonious invitation, in the spirit-tablet 
as soon as the body has been consigned to the grave. 
" From this very moment," as Dr. De Groot says, 
" the tablet is considered to be imbued with the afflatus 
of the dead, and to have become his perpetual dupli- 
cate, to serve as a patron divinity in the domestic 
circle and there to receive the offspring's sacrifices 
and worship."^ 

The soul-tablets {shen-chu) of father, grandfather 
and great-grandfather are, in Weihaiwei, preserved 
in every private house, while the tablets of the earlier 
ancestors are deposited in the family temples. They 
are not exposed, either in house or in temple, except 
on ceremonial occasions, such as the first fifteen days 
of the first month of the year and the festival of the 
winter solstice {Tung Chili) at or about the time of 
the European Christmas. The Chia Miao or Ancestral 
Temple is usually the largest as well as the cleanest 
building in the village. The front gate, abutting on 
the main village street, leads into a small courtyard 
in which there is generally at least one cypress 

* 77^1? Religiotis System of China, vol. i. p. 212. For full details as 
to the procedure at Chinese funerals and the religious ceremonies 
connected therewith, the reader is referred to Dr. De Groot's monu- 
mental work, which deals minutely with this and kindred subjects. 


tree.^ The temple itself consists of a large room con- 
taining little or nothing but a few carved chairs, a 
table, and — last but not least — rows of boxes containing 
ancestral tablets. Each tablet consists of an oblong 
piece of hard wood {catalpa is chiefly used at Wei- 
haiwei) about eight inches high and two inches broad, 
fitting into a wooden stand three inches broad and 
one inch high. The tablet has a recessed front, which 
bears an inscription more or less similar to that 
which appears on tombstones.^ Into the recess slips 
a sliding front, on the outside of which the inscription 
is repeated in a slightly altered form. The outside 
of the tablet is often painted white, but the recessed 
front is left plain. Both inscriptions are written in 
black ink, but there is an important dot of red ink^ 
on the top of the important character chu^ which 
comes last. 

The process of " dotting the chu " {tien chu) with 
red ink is an essential part of the ceremony whereby 
the wooden tablet becomes the abode of an ancestral 
soul. As a rule the tablet bears two names — those 
of husband and wife — so that each human soul is not 
necessarily supposed to have a tablet to itself. Just 
as the bodies of husband and wife share a single 
grave, so do their spirits (according to the theory 
accepted in Weihaiwei) share a single tablet, and the 
prayers and sacrifices that are offered to the one are 
intended in equal measure for the other. 

The inscription on a tablet now before me* may 
be translated as follows. Outside. "The Spirit-tablet 
of my deceased honoured father and mother. I their 

1 See p. 263. Needless to say, the ancestral temples of great or 
wealthy families are on a very much grander scale. 

3 See p. 256. 

^ Instead of red ink it is in some parts of China customary to use 
blood extracted from a cock's comb. For an explanation of this, and 
for a full description of the ceremony of dotting the tablet, see 
De Groot, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 214-ig. 

* See illustration. 













1— 1 












son Yiieh-hsiang reverentially make obeisance and 
offer sacrifice." ^ Inside. " The Imperial Ch'ing 
Dynasty. The Spirit-tablet of Yao Feng-chu, the 
eldest son of his generation,^ and his wife Chang 
Shih." Sometimes dates are added on the tablet but 
these are not essential, as all such records are pre- 
served in the genealogical table or pedigree-scroll. 
On ceremonial occasions the tablets are set out in due 
order, so that the spirits may be comforted by the 
sacrificial offerings and by the sight of the many 
prosperous-looking descendants who have assem- 
bled to do them honour. In front of the tablets 
are set up sticks of fragrant incense, and all the 
members of the family present themselves in turn 
and bow reverently towards the souls of their dead 

The little ceremony is as simple and yet as im- 
pressive as could well be imagined. For the first few 
days of the New Year the pedigree-scroll {chia p^u\ 
which is carefully wrapped up and put away at 
ordinary times, is unrolled and hung on the wall, 
where it receives a share of the reverence paid to 
the tablets. The scroll is often a beautiful work of 
art, painted to represent a temple or a grand family 
mansion,^ while the names of the past generations are 
inscribed in successive rows so that the space devoted 
to each name looks a spirit-tablet in miniature. In 
some parts of China, but not in Weihaiwei, it is 
customary to have family portraits painted for the 
purpose of preserving the " shadow-semblances " {ying 
hsiang) of ancestors as sacred heirlooms in the family 
temples. Like the pedigree-scroll, such portraits are 
exposed to view on solemn occasions only. They are 
often painted while the subject is on his death-bed 
or immediately after his death. De Groot * compares 

' The terms used are honorific. 

2 That is, the eldest son of his father. 

' See illustration facing next page, and that facing p. 278. 

* Op. cit. vol. i. p. 114. 


these family portraits with the iniagiiies maiontm of 
the ancient Romans. 

A Chinese who emigrates to a foreign land rarely 
fails to make an agreement, either with his employers 
or with his compatriots, that if he dies while abroad 
his body is to be taken back not only to China but to 
his native town or village, wherever that may be. 
This peculiarity on the part of the Chinese is so 
well recognised by every one concerned that most 
European shipping firms trading in the Eastern seas 
are obliged to make special arrangements for con- 
veying cargoes of coffins at moderate rates up and 
down the coast of China and from the various 
countries bordering on the Pacific where there are 
Chinese merchants and labourers. Probably it is 
generally supposed that the Chinese — like the people 
of other countries, only more so — are so sentimentally 
attached to their old homes that they will not venture 
to go abroad unless they are sure of returning to it 
some day as dead men if not as living ones. This is 
true to a certain extent. The average Chinese dearly 
loves his old home, and considering that it has been 
the home of his ancestors for a length of time that 
would make the oldest ancestral estate in England 
ashamed of itself, it is no wonder that he should 
regard it with affection. 

But there is another reason why it is considered 
important that every Chinese — at least every Chinese 
who has sons of his own and has maintained con- 
nection with the old stock from which he sprang — 
should lay his bones beside those of his fathers. The 
Chinese theory is that some mysterious sympathy 
exists, even after death, between the soul and the 
body, and that unless the body is brought to the place 
where the ancestral sacra are carried out it will be 
impossible to provide for the sacrificial rites that ought 
to be rendered to the soul. The family at home will 
thus lose one of its ancestral links, and the dead man's 
spirit will wander homeless and lordless in the world 




Photo by Ah Foiig, Wi^ihahcei. 

A PEDIGREE-SCROLL (CHIA P'u) (sce p. 2/9). 
p. 2S0] 


of shades : an ancestral ghost separated for ever from 
communion with its fellows. 

It is partly because of this supposed connection 
between soul and body that the Chinese abhor the 
idea of descending to their graves in a mutilated 
condition. Thus in China decapitation is a more 
serious punishment than strangulation, because it is 
thought that the headless man may become a head- 
less ghost. The danger of appearing in a mutilated 
condition in the next world is, however, lessened or 
averted if the severed members can be buried along 
with the body to which they belonged. A Chinese 
servant in Weihaiwei not long ago begged for an old 
biscuit-tin from his foreign master in order that he 
might give it to a friend who wished to use it as a 
coffin for his amputated foot.^ 

It is the hope of every Chinese, then, that when he 
dies he will be laid in his ancestral graveyard, and 
that he will be laid there in a state of organic com- 
pleteness. But there are occasions, of course, when 
it has proved impossible to convey dead men's bones 
from one end of China to another, or home from a 
foreign land : sometimes the family cannot afford the 
expense, sometimes there are overwhelming difficulties 
with regard to transport. Chinese ingenuity long ago 
set itself to devise a means whereby even such bad 
cases as this might have a happy ending, and it 
succeeded. The body itself, it was argued, is of no 
real importance : for sentimental reasons it is satis- 
factory to be able to bury the bodies of the dead in 
their ancestral graveyards, but otherwise there is no 
urgency in the matter provided only the dead man's 

' We may smile at Chinese simplicity in such matters, but exactly 
the same ideas have existed in the West. " A woman in our parish," 
writes a resident in Wiltshire, " had her leg amputated and got a little 
coffin made for it. She caused it to be buried in the churchyard" — 
with the view of joining it there at some future day. Many similar 
cases have been observed in Ireland, and doubtless in many other 
parts of western Europe. (See Folk-lore, March 1907, pp. 82-3, and 
June 1907, p. 21 6.) 


souls — in spite of the absence of the body with which 
they were associated — can be persuaded or induced to 
take up their respective abodes in the ancestral grave- 
yard and in the spirit-tablet. The problem was solved 
by calling in the aid of religion, and the ceremony 
observed is in outline something like this. 

The members of the deceased's family, clad of 
course in funereal garb, call in a priest who, in ac- 
cordance with the data provided by them, prepares a 
scroll containing the dead man's name and age and the 
date and place of his death. They then make a very 
rough effigy of a man — a few twisted straws are quite 
good enough — and on the effigy they pin the scroll. 
The priest now performs the ceremony of " calling the 
soul back " — that is to say, he recites certain charms 
which are supposed to reach the wandering spirit, 
wherever it may be, and to draw it to the place where 
the ceremony is to take place. The utterance of a 
few more charms is supposed to be sufficient to attach 
the spirit to the effigy — or rather to the scroll— which 
is then placed in a miniature coffin and buried with 
the rites observed at ordinary funerals. The man 
himself, to all intents and purposes, now lies buried 
in the ancestral graveyard, and all that remains to be 
done is to evoke the spiritual presence that will in 
future inhabit the shen-chu or spirit-tablet. When this 
has been done (just in the same way as when a real 
corpse lies buried) the ceremony is at an end : the 
soul, or rather the combination of souls, has been 
saved from homelessness, and will in future assume 
its proper position as an ancestral ghost both in the 
family graveyard and in the ancestral temple. 

This remarkable custom is obviously such a con- 
venient means of avoiding the trouble and expense 
of conveying dead bodies from distant places, that 
its comparative rarity may well be a matter of some 
surprise. Certainly, if the practice were to come into 
common use it would indirectly give a great impulse 
to emigration : for which reason it may perhaps be 


hoped by some Western peoples that it will for ever 
remain unfashionable. The custom is, however, an 
exceedingly old one, and was practised even at the 
Imperial Court nearly nineteen centuries ago.^ There 
seems to have always been a strong prejudice against 
it, partly because it was a foolish superstition 
and partl}^ because it would tempt the people to 
cease troubling themselves about the burial of their 
parents or bringing home their bodies from a distance, 
and would thus tend to the degradation or weakening 
of the ideals of filial piety. Hence we find that the 
practice of burying souls without the bodies was in 
318 A.D. condemned by Imperial Decree as heretical;^ 
yet this condemnation by no means brought about its 
discontinuance, and the present legal position is that 
the " violation of a grave in which an evoked soul is 
interred shall be punished just as severely as the 
violation of a grave occupied by a corpse," ^ that is 
to say the offender may be sentenced to death. 

In his interesting section on this strange custom 
Dr. De Groot remarks that as it has been " of common 
prevalence for at least eighteen centuries" its occur- 
rence even nowadays can hardly be doubted. It 
certainly exists at Weihaiwei, though it is not in 
very common use. One reason for practising it in 
this little corner of China is based on the very strong 
belief that husband and wife should always be buried 
in the same grave. If the husband dies while he is 
abroad and the body is lost or cannot be brought 
home, nothing is necessarily done until his widow 
(who has remained at home) dies also. When she is 
buried, her husband's soul is ceremonially summoned 
to take up its residence in a paper scroll bearing the 
pa ko tzu (" eight characters " naming the year, month, 

' De Groot, op. cit. vol. iii. p. 848. 

^ De Groot, loc. cit. p. 849. 

^ De Groot, loc. cit. p. 854. The punishment under the Penal Code 
for opening a grave and exposing the corpse is strangulation (subject to 


day and hour of birth), and this, with or without a 
straw effigy, is formally placed in the grave by the 
widow's side. 

A practical reason for this proceeding at once 
suggests itself if it has happened that the couple were 
childless and were the owners of property. It then 
becomes necessary for the elders of the clan to select 
an heir ; and as an adopted heir — who must be a 
" spare " son of a relative — is obliged to separate 
himself from his own branch of the clan and to 
regard the dead man and his wife for the future as 
his proper parents, matters must be so arranged that 
he can become possessor of his adoptive father's spirit- 
tablet. As the dead man's spirit is not supposed to 
take up its abode in the tablet until he has been 
interred with the proper rites in the family grave- 
yard, it is necessary, if his body is missing, to evoke 
and inter its spiritual representative. If this were 
not done, the adopted heir would be unable to carry 
on the ancestral rites except in an irregular way, and 
this might lead to serious legal difficulties later on 
in the event of another member of the clan disputing 
the genuineness of the adoption and heirship. 

A point worth noting in connection with ancestral 
worship and adoption is that (in this part of China 
at least) the mere fact of childlessness does not 
necessarily lead a man to adopt a son : it is childless- 
ness combined with the ownership of property that 
induces him to do so. We will suppose that a man 
has obtained his share of the family inheritance; that 
it is too small to support him ; that he has sold it 
to relatives and with the cash proceeds has gone 
abroad to make a living; that he returns as "an old 
man, childless and penniless : this man will in all 
probability show no desire to adopt a son, nor indeed 
is it likely that he could succeed in doing so if he 
wished it. The ancestral worship will not suffer by 
his childless death provided he has brothers and 
nephews to perpetuate the family sacra. Even if it 


happens that he is actually the last of his house and 
that his death will bring the ancestral cult of his 
line to an abrupt conclusion, it is not likely that, for 
the sole purpose of carrying on the sacra, the last of 
the line will bestir himself to go through the formalities 
necessary for the adoption of a son. The fact is 
that the possession of property — especially landed 
property — is regarded in practice as an inseparable 
condition of the continuation of the ancestral rites. 
This theory is often expressed in the formula mei-yu 
ch^an-yeh mei-yn shcn-chu — " no ancestral property, no 
ancestral tablets." If the spirits of the deceased an- 
cestors have been so regardless of the interests of 
their descendants that they have allowed the family 
property to pass into the hands of strangers, it is 
thought that they have only themselves to blame if for 
them the smoke of incense no longer curls heavenward 
from the domestic altars. Indeed, there is a vague 
idea that as the family line dwindles and finally be- 
comes extinct on the material plane, so on the spiritual 
plane the ancestral ghosts gradually fade away either 
into non-existence or into a state of Nirvana-like 

A childless old man who has property is in China, 
as in the West, the object of the most tender solicitude 
on the part of brothers and cousins with large 
families. They are continually impressing upon him 
the gravity of his offence in not providing for the 
succession and for the suitable disposal of his 
property, and unceasingly urge the claims of this 
nephew or that to formal adoption. If the old man 
has chosen a boy or young man for whom he happens 
to have affection, and if the choice meets with general 
approval, then every one is happy, and an adoption 
deed is drawn up and attested by all the near relatives. 
But if his choice falls on one who is considered to 
be too distant a connection for adoption, or if the 
elders of the clan for some other reason object to 
the proposal, then the old man is in a difficulty, for 


he is not entirely a free agent in the matter. He 
might get an adoption deed drawn up without con- 
sulting any one, but if it were not properly attested 
by his relatives it would be treated by them as null 
and void. Adoption, no less than the sale of land, 
is an affair not of the individual but of the family. 

Disputes of this kind are the not infrequent cause 
of lawsuits. An old man once complained before 
me that though the youth he wished to adopt belonged 
to the proper generation (that is, the generation 
immediately junior to that of -the adopter) and was 
not an only son, and though both the youth and 
his father had agreed to the adoption, yet the other 
relatives had held aloof when they were invited to 
sign the adoption deed, and had absolutely refused 
to take any part in the proceedings. This implied, 
of course, that when the time came they would refuse 
to recognise the legality of the adoption. He there- 
fore besought me to compel or persuade the obstinate 
relatives to come to a more reasonable frame of mind. 
** I am now eighty-one years old " — so ran the pre- 
amble of his petition — "and I do not know how long 
I have to live. When morning dawns I cannot be 
sure that I shall see the evening ; in another day 
my eyes may be closed for ever ; and if I die with 
the bitter knowledge that for me there will be no 
ancestral sacrifices, then, indeed, miserable shall I be 
down in the Yellow Springs [of death]." It is of 
course impossible to decide such cases without taking 
into full account the nature of the objections raised 
by the relatives : they are often selfish, but as a rule 
they are not baseless or frivolous. 

Ancestral spirits are regarded as beneficent beings 
who never causelessly use their mysterious powers 
to injure the living ; but if their descendants lea^ 
evil lives, or neglect the family sacrifices, or treat 
the sacred rules of filial piety with contempt, then the 
spirits will in all probability exercise the parental 
prerogatives of punishment. The power of a father 


in China to castigate his son is theoretically as absolute 
in the case of a grown-up son as in the case of one 
who is still a child : similarly it is supposed that the 
father does not, by the mere accident of death, divest 
himself of his patriarchal rights of administering 
justice and inflicting punishment on his sons and 
grandsons. Provided a man carefully observes the 
traditional ceremonies and leads a good life accord- 
ing to the accepted ethics of his race, he knows 
that he has nothing to fear from the souls of his 

But there are in China various classes of ghosts 
who are supposed to be highly malevolent and to 
constitute no small danger to the community. There 
are, for example, the ghosts whose tempers have been 
soured by calamity and misfortune; those whose 
bodies have not been buried ; those who were drowned 
at sea ; those who ended their mortal lives by un- 
justifiable suicide and haunt the place where they 
died until they can, by ghostly suggestions, prevail 
on one of their earthly neighbours to follow their 
example ; ^ those who died before accomplishing a 
vow or completing an act of vengeance : these and 
many others are ghosts or evil spirits which the wise 
man who walks warily through life will do his best to 

...The curious and cruel superstition which sometimes 
prevents a Chinese from helping a drowning comrade 
even when he could save the man without danger 
to himself has its origin in a fear that he will incur 
the deadly hostility of a spirit that demands the toll 
of a human life. It is even thought in some places 
that by saving your friend you may be condemning 
yourself to be his future substitute. This superstition 
has existed in many parts of the world — from Ireland 
to the Solomon Islands.- It need hardly be said that 

' See p. 222. 

^ See Grant Allen's Evolution of the Idea of God (pp. 265-7) ; 
Tylor's Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. i. pp. Iu8-ii ; VV. G. 


educated opinion in China is altogether opposed to 
the heartless abandonment of drowning men : the 
superstition is an active force only in a few localities, 
and only to a minute extent, if at all, may it be said 
to exist in Weihaiwei, 

A vestige of it is possibly to be traced in the fact 
that " wrecking " is not regarded as a very serious 
breach of sound ethics. When British rule was 
first established at Weihaiwei pitiful scenes were 
to be witnessed during the tempests of winter, when 
junk after junk was hurled against the rock-bound 
coast. No great effort was made to save human 
life ; indeed, there is reason to believe that men 
were allowed to freeze to death on the shore or to 
be battered to death by the merciless waves while 
those who could and should have come to their 
rescue actually stepped over their bodies while on 
the eager search for remnants of wrecked cargo. 
All this has been so greatly changed that storm- 
driven junks in the Gulf of Chihli have been known 
to make deliberately for the coasts of Weihaiwei, their 
crews believing that if disaster must come there 
would be a greater chance of safety for themselves 
and less risk of having their cargoes looted on the 
shores of British territory than anywhere else along 
the coast of Shantung. Two or three of the village 
headmen have shown great loyalty in accepting and 
carrying out British policy in this matter, and have 
been personally instrumental in saving numbers of 
lives and in helping the crews of wrecked junks to 
salve their cargoes and to repair the damage done 

Black's Folk-Medicine^ p. 2g ; and Dennys's Folk-lore of China, p. 22. 
The superstition sometimes takes the form of a belief that the rescued 
man will some day do some terrible injury to his rescuer — perhaps at 
the instigation of the evil spirit who was balked of his prey. It is 
quite erroneous to suppose that this superstitious objection to saving 
the drowning is prevalent throughout all China. De Groot {op. cit. 
vol. V. p. 526) states that he never found a trace of it in the province of 
Fuhkien ; " while, moreover, all the Chinese we interrogated on this 
head protested against their humanity being thus called in question." 



►— » 






to their vessels. The headman who has shown him- 
self most energetic in this good work deserves special 
mention. He is Ch'e Shuo-hsiieh, the district head- 
man of Hai-hsi-t'ou. To him the Government of 
Weihaiwei has presented a picn or carved com- 
plimentary tablet.^ The inscription reads Cheng jen 
yil wei — " Human lives rescued from peril." Tablets 
of this kind when presented by the official authorities 
are highly valued by the Chinese, and are preserved 
as heirlooms. 

But the spirits that drag men into the waters of a 
river or down to Lung Wang's palace in the depths of 
ocean at least make a practice of confining their 
activity to their chosen element. Far more dangerous 
are the gloomy homeless souls that stalk the country 
fields and prowl round villages, always on the look- 
out for victims and always ready to deceive the 
ignorant. There are terrible vampires and devil-foxes 
that throw mists over men's eyes and minds and make 
them believe they see before them damsels of bewitch- 
ing beauty. It is difficult indeed to save any one who 
has once passed under the dominion of a fox-wife : 
he is a doomed man. A prevalent belief on the 
subject of ghosts and goblins and evil spirits is based 
on a kind of theory of predestination. The man who is 
fated not to be bothered by such beings will escape 
them ; he who is fated to be their prey cannot by any 
possibility avoid them. The Chinese popular saying 
puts it more neatly : " He who is born lucky can laugh 
at demons ; the unlucky wight becomes the demon's 

The Weihaiwei Annals tell a story of a man who 
must have been born lucky. His name was Kuo and 
he belonged to Ch'in Ts'un, a village that lies a few 
miles from Port Edward. One evening he was return- 
ing from the sea-side with a load of fish. On the way 
he met a ghost, who pressed Kuo to allow him to 
carry his load. Kuo, not in the least dismayed, 

' For the headman in question and h.\s pie n, see illustration. 



congratulated himself on a welcome relief and promptly 
placed his burden on the ghost's shoulders. Man and 
ghost trudged along contentedly side by side for some 
distance, but on arriving at Ch'in Ts'un the dogs 
began to bark, and the ghost, thinking this was no 
place for him, suggested that he must say good-bye. 
Kuo refused to hear of such a thing and insisted that 
the ghost should accompany him home and share 
his evening meal. On reaching home Kuo asked 
his unearthly visitor to sit down, and ordered his 
wife and child to set about getting supper ready. 
When the water was boiling he furtively threw into 
the cooking-pot some fragments of decayed wood 
and an old nail. The whole party, including the 
ghost, enjoyed a hearty meal, and when it was over 
the ghost took his leave without having done the 
least harm to any one. 

" If men are not afraid of ghosts," adds the 
Weihaiwei chronicler, " ghosts will not be able to do 
them any injury. When this story is attentively 
considered the truth of that statement will become 
increasingly evident." But he tells the story with 
perhaps the suggestion of a twinkle in his eye : for 
in the course of the narrative he interjects the remark, 
to which he adds no comment, that Kuo's besetting 
weakness was strong drink. It is remarkable that he 
offers no explanation of Kuo's action in throwing pieces 
of decayed wood and a nail into the cooking-pot, 
though this was just where Kuo showed his cunning. 
To put rotten wood and old iron into one's porridge 
will appear a meaningless rite to the uninstructed. 
It is a practical illustration of a popular Chinese 
belief that marvellous efficacy in destroying the evil 
influences of ghosts and demons and other ill-omened 
beings is inherent in rotten wood and nails taken from 
old coffin-boards which have been actually used for j 
the burial of a corpse. Kuo's rotten wood was — 
though the chronicler leaves that important point to j 
his reader's intelligence — wood that had once formed I 


part of a coffin.^ This little story shows conclusively 
that though in Europe if one sups with the devil one 
must use a long spoon, in Weihaiwei one wants nothing 
more than a piece of coffin-wood and an old nail. 

As it is no one's special business to propitiate male- 
volent spirits, the obligation is one that is understood 

' For an account of the popular belief with regard to old coffin- 
wood and nails, see De Groot, op. cif. vol. i. pp. 328-9. See also 
Doolittle's Social Life of the Chinese, p. 561 ; and Dennys's Folk-lore 
of Chifia (p. 48), where it is said that " a nail that has been used in 
fastening up a coffin is a sovereign charm. This is sometimes beaten 
out into a rod or wire and, encased in silver, worn as a ring round the 
ankles or wrists." It is very curious that even in this matter of coffin- 
nails we can trace a close connection between Chinese and Western 
European folk-lore. In the Shetland Islands (which seem to possess 
many remarkable parallels with Chinese folk-lore) it is said that tooth- 
ache can be cured by picking the tooth " with the nail of an old 
coffin." {Folk-lore Journal, vol. iii. p. 380.) In parts of Yorkshire it 
was once the custom to take some coffin-lead or other coffin-metal from 
a churchyard and have it made into a ring ; it then became a cure for 
cramp. {County Folk-lore, vol. ii. [North Riding of Yorkshire] p. 171.) 
Similar beliefs existed elsewhere in England — in Devonshire, for 
example. (See W. G. Black's Folk-Medicitie, p. 175.) It may be 
noted here that a thoroughly "orthodox" coffin in China is supposed 
to have no nails at all, or as few as possible. The various planks are 
fitted into grooves and notches with the deliberate intention of avoiding 
the necessity of nails. This doctrine is well understood at Weihaiwei 
and followed there as far as practicable. The explanation of the 
nailless coffin given by De Groot is that it dates from a period in 
extreme antiquity when iron was nnknowti. The form of coffin 
that was adopted in a primitive age from necessity is used in modern 
times from a spirit of conservatism, or from reverence for a custom 
that time has sanctified. {See De Groot, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 95 and 286-7.) 
In Weihaiwei and many other places a single nail which serves no 
practical purpose is driven in (only far enough to make it immobile) on 
one side of the coffin-lid, and this nail is decorated with parti-coloured 
threads. The people of Weihaiwei seem to have no explanation of 
this custom, but it is evidently a kind of charm to bring wealth, happiness 
and an ample progeny to the family. The charm is based on a play 
on the word ting, "nail," which also means a man, or male offspring. 
As the nail {ting) is driven into the parent's coffin, so, it is thought, 
will there always be males {ting) to carry on the family ; and as these 
five-coloured threads are wound round the nail, so will wealth, 
prosperity, honours, long life and many children be the portion of the 
sons of the family for all time to come. 


to rest with the Government. Among the numerous re- 
ligious duties of the district-magistrates is that of quiet- 
ing the evil propensities of all bad ghosts or spirits. 
In the district-city of Jung-ch'eng, for instance, among 
the altars at which official rites must periodically take 
place is one called the Li T^an, a phrase which may be 
translated as an Altar to Evil Spirits. Three times a 
year — namely at the three great festivals of the Dead 
or Souls' Days ^ — the district-magistrate and other 
local officials attired in ceremonial robes proceed to 
the Li T'an and there offer up sacrifices of propitiation 
to all harmful spirits. The process consists in issuing 
to all homeless and tablet-less ghosts a solemn in- 
vitation to a banquet. The viands provided are 
three sheep, three pigs, three measures of grain and 
an indefinite quantity of paper-money. All this is 
supposed to satiate or pacify the spirits so that they 
cease to do harm to mankind at least until the arrival 
of the next sacrificial festival. 

In China, as in Europe, there are various strange 
beliefs connected with the mysterious powers sup- 
posed to be inherent in corpses. As soon as a man 
or woman is dead the family take care that no dogs or 
cats (especially cats) shall be allowed into the mortuary 
chamber, as it is believed that so long as the coffin has 
not been closed the approach of one of these animals 
will cause the corpse to jump. This is a well-known 
superstition in Weihaiwei ; and from De Groot's work, 
which deals more particularly with a portion of the 
southern province of Fuhkien, it may be gathered that 
it exists in other parts of the Empire also.^ De Groot 
(who mentions cats only, not dogs) accounts for the 
idea by referring it to the domain of tiger-lore. Each 
member of the feline race, he says, is supposed to have 
on its tail a miraculous hair, which has the power of 
bringing the soul back to any human body from which 

' See p. 192. 

2 De Groot, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 43-4 ; vol. v. p. 750. See also 
Dennys's Folk-lot'e of China^ p. 20. 


it had already departed. But why should this be 
objected to, seeing that, as De Groot has himself 
pointed out, the main object of the tearless howling at 
Chinese funerals, which has so often rather unjustly 
excited the ridicule of Europeans, is to call back the 
soul of the departed ? 

The explanation that has been given me in Wei- 
haiwei, with regard to the cat and dog superstition, 
is that the hair or fur of these animals (especially that 
of the cat) contains so much " lightning" (electricity) 
that the corpse is liable to be galvanised by it into an 
uncanny though only temporary activity. Whatever 
the true explanation may be, it is interesting to note 
that here we have one more of those very numerous 
fragments of folk-lore that connect the far East with 
the far West. In the Orkneys and Shetlands, when a 
death has taken place and the corpse has been laid out, 
all cats are locked up} It would be interesting to know 
what the local explanation of the custom is in that 
corner of the British Isles. Similar beliefs as to the 
malign influence of cats on corpses exist in the Border 
country. On the Scottish side it is believed to be so 
unlucky for a dog or cat to pass over a corpse that the 
poor animal, if it has been seen doing so, is — or used 
to be — killed without mercy.- Mr. G. L. Gomme, who 
cites this Scottish superstition from Pennant, states 
that the same belief is to be found in Northumberland. 
" In one case," he says, "just as a funeral was about to 
leave the house, the cat jumped over the coffin, and no 
one would move till the cat was destroyed."^ A dog, 
too, was killed on another occasion for a similar 
reason. That there is a close connection between 

' County Folk-lore, vol. iii. (Orkney and Shetland), p. 2i6. 

' Pennant's Tour ifi Scotland. See also Brand's Antiquities, vol. ii. 
P- 233. 

' G. L. Gomme's Folklore Relics of Early Village Life, p. 116. I 
cannot agree with Mr. Gomme's interpretation of the superstition. 
He regards it as connected with the " primitive hearth sacrifice." The 
Chinese parallels seem to have been unknown to him. 


cats and evil spirits may be taken as one of the 
elementary doctrines of " black magic," both in China 
and in Europe ; ^ but popular antipathy to the un- 
fortunate animal on this account has never become so 
intense in China as at one time it became in Europe, 
where— in Paris and other places — cats used to be 
burned alive in bonfires.^ 

Among other superstitions connected with corpses 
may be mentioned that relating to mirrors, though in 
Weihaiwei it is very nearly extinct. In many parts 
of China, when a death occurs all mirrors in the house 
are immediately covered up. One explanation of the 
custom is that if the dead man happens to notice a 
reflection of himself in the glass he will be much 
horrified to find that he has become a ghost, and much 
disappointed with his own appearance as such. 
Another explanation is that every mirror has a 
mysterious faculty of invisibly retaining and storing 
up everything that is reflected on its surface, and that 
if anything so ill-omened as a corpse or a ghost were 
to pass before it, the mirror would thenceforth become 
a permanent radiator of bad luck. In some Chinese 
households mirrors are covered up or turned upside- 
down, not only when a corpse is in the house, but 
after sundown every day : for it is thought that 
evil spirits and other unlucky influences are free at 
night to wander whither they will, and that if they 
pass in front of a mirror that is not covered, 
that mirror will become a source of danger and 
unhappiness to the family that owns it. The 
mirror superstition, like that of cats, is not confined 
to China. In Orkney and Shetland, when a death 
occurs, not only are all cats locked up, as already 
mentioned, but covers are put over all looking-glasses.^ 
The same custom exists on the Scottish mainland* 

' For China, see Dennys's Folk-lore of China, pp. 48, 90-91. 

* See Frazer's Goldett Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. pp. 324 seq. 
3 County Folk-lore, vol. iii. (Orkney and Shetland), p. 216. 

* Folk-lore Journal, vol. ii. p. 281, 


and also in many other parts of Europe, including 
England, Belgium and Germany; and it is also to be 
found in Madagascar and in India.^ 

But the cat and mirror notions sink into insignifi- 
cance when we contemplate another corpse-superstition 
to be found at Weihaiwei and in other parts of China : 
a superstition of so extraordinary a nature that it is 
almost certain to be received with incredulity by all 
who are not in a position personally to verify the fact 
of its existence. It is said that when a death has 
occurred the face of the corpse and all other exposed 
parts (such as the hands) should be carefully covered 
with a cloth, in order to prevent the tears of the 
mourners from coming in contact with the dead man's 
flesh. To make doubly sure, it is considered advisable 
for the mourners not to weep over the corpse, but at 
some little distance from it. If these precautions are 
neglected and tears do by some chance fall on the 
corpse, and if this happens on an " unlucky " ^ day, 
the results may be disastrous, not only to the family 
chiefly concerned, but also to the whole population of 
the district. The tears, it is said, find their way 
through the dead man's skin into his heart, where 
they are liable to create in him a kind of quasi-vitality 
long after he has been consigned to his grave. On 
his body will grow wings and white feathers, and 
though he remain in his grave he is able to use these 
feathers and wings with extraordinary effect. Just as 
he absorbed the tear-drops of his weeping friends, 
so he is supposed to attract to his own grave all the 
moisture that should be distributed in the form of rain 
over the whole country round, and by moving his 
wings to and fro he so fans the clouds that no rain 

* Frazer's Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii, pp. 294 seq. 

^ Every day in the Chinese calendar is either lucky, unlucky, or 
indifferent ; and very many people will undertake no duty or work 
of importance until they have consulted the fortune-telling almanac 
(a new one is issued for each year), or have at least consulted temple 
oracles. The Jewish Sabbath is now believed to have originated in a 
similar superstition. 


descends except on his own grave. Some say that 
the horrible feathered creature is able to leave his 
grave at night and fly through the neighbourhood 
in the terrible guise of a malevolent demon. If 
he knocks at a door, it is believed that one of the 
inmates of the house is doomed to a speedy death. ^ 
If the locality is visited by a prolonged drought 
and the usual official prayers have been unavailing, 
the people petition the magistrate to send out his 
runners to inspect all the graveyards of the neigh- 

As soon as they have found one on which the soil 
is soft and moist while all the surrounding grass- 
mounds are parched and brown, this is regarded as 
a proof that a lian-pa (such is the technical name of 
the feathered corpse) lies in that spot. The wet grave 
has no sooner been discovered than the magistrate or 
some person authorised by him leads thither a crowd 
of the local people armed with brooms^ and hooks. 
The coffin is exhumed and the lid opened. No sooner 
is this done than all the bystanders rush forward 
with their weapons to strike down the corpse or to 
trip him up or hook him if he attempts to run or fly 
away : for this, according to the story, is what the 
han-pa always tries to do. As soon as he has been 
carefully secured and recoffined, the dreaded han-pa 
is placed on a heap of firewood and burned to ashes. 
Copious rain is certain to fall the same evening or 
the following day. Faith in this remarkable supersti- 
tion seems to be well rooted in Weihaiwei. One of 
my informants, himself a believer, expressed amaze- 
ment at hearing that no such notions existed in 
England. On being asked why it was considered 
necessary to open the coffin-lid, he said it was to 
enable the relatives of the dead man to see for 
themselves that the corpse really was a han-pa, and 

' Cf. the Irish and Scottish banshee. 

^ All evil demons are supposed to be afraid of brooms, See p, 190 


that there was no alternative but to burn it : otherwise 
they might feel that their dead relative had been 
grievously maligned and his remains treated with 
unpardonable disrespect. ** What happens," I asked, 
" when the dead man turns out to be just an ordinary 
corpse ? " " But that could never be," was the decisive 
answer. " The moist grave in a time of drought is an 
infallible sign of a Iian-pa. There can be no mistake." 
I have described this superstition as it exists at 
Weihaiwei, but it is by no means confined to that 
locality. The word Jian-pame^ns "demon of drought," 
and the earliest mention of it in extant Chinese 
literature is in the beautiful hymn of King Hsiian, 
preserved in the Book of Poetry {Shih Ching) edited 
by Confucius.^ It is there mentioned as being the 
cause of a great drought that appears to have occurred 
about the year 821 b.c. The drought-demon is also 
referred to in the Shan Hai Ching, a curious quasi- 
geographical work of disputed date. A certain 
Taoist Book of Marvels tells us that " in the southern 
regions there is a man-like creature two or three feet 
high, with a naked body and an eye on the top of its 
head. It moves with the swiftness of wind, and 
wherever it is seen a calamitous drought is sure to 
occur. It is called paT^ From none of these 
authorities do we gather that there was any connection 
between the drought-demon and a human corpse over 
which tears had been shed. Wang Ch'ung (first 
century a.d.) writes of ** flying corpses " {fei shih),^ but 
this does not bring us much further. How the super- 
stition as it at present exists grew up is far from clear, 
and it seems likely that it represents a coalescence of 
several beliefs that were once quite separate. De 
Groot discusses the subject with his usual thorough- 

' See Legge's C/n'nesc Classics, vol. iv, pt. ii. p. 532. The passage 
referred to is translated by Legge thus: i"The demon of drought 
[/mn-pd] exercises his oppression, as if scattering flames and fire." 

' This passage is quoted in the K'ang Hsi dictionary, s.v. Pa. 

^ l.un Hcng, transl. by Forke, pt. i. p. 243. 


ness/ though he does not appear to have come across 
the superstition in the form in which it is known at 

It might well be supposed that in the han-pa, if in 
nothing else, we have come across a piece of Chinese 
folk-lore that has no parallel in Europe ; but perhaps 
our supposition would be unwarrantably hasty. I 
find that in the Highlands of Scotland " it was thought 
wrong to weep, lest the tears should hurt the dead." ^ 
Then again there is, or was, an English superstition 
against the use of certain feathers in feather-beds and 
pillows. The feathers of the domestic fowl, goose, 
pigeon, partridge, and sometimes those of wild birds 
generally, were tabooed.^ No reason has been given so 
far as I know for this singular and apparently senseless 
idea, any more than for the Highland notion that tears 
were hurtful to the dead. It may be far-fetched to 
suppose on the strength of these old wives' tales that 
the shedding of tears over corpses was once believed 
by our own remote ancestors to turn dead men into 
feathered demons like the Chinese han-pa ; but perhaps 
it might appear less unlikely that there is some ex- 
tremely ancient and now forgotten connection between 
the British and the Chinese superstitions if we were 
able to find some traces of similar beliefs in the 
intervening countries of Europe or Asia. 

For long I despaired of finding anything that might 
be regarded as a missing link ; but Bohemia is the 
country that seems to have supplied it at last. The 
following letter will show that in Europe, as well as 
in Far Cathay, there still exists in our own generation 
the remnant of a belief that drought may in certain 

* Op. cit. vol. V. pp. 516-20, 761. For remarks on human spectres in 
the shape of birds, see vol. v. pp. 634 seq. For a reference to the 
spectres known in Europe as Vampires, see vol. v. p. 747 scq. For 
evidence as to the supposed existence of vampires and grave-demons iu 
the Malay States, see Skeat's Malay Magic, pp. 103 and 327. 

* Folk-lore Journal, vol. ii. (1884), p. 281. 
' Folk-lore, September 1900, p. 243, 


circumstances be caused by a human corpse, and that 
such a corpse is in some mysterious way associated 
with feathers. 

"In the Bohemian village of Metschin," says a writer 
in Folk-lore,'^ ** the body of the schoolmaster, who was 
buried early in May amid many marks of respect from 
the inhabitants, is to be exhumed. There, as else- 
where, a great drought prevails, and the story has 
got about that a cushion with feathers was put under 
his head. Nine-tenths of the population believe that 
this is the cause of the drougnt, hence the proposal 
to exhume him and remove the cushion, which is in 
reality filled with hay. Is this case parallel to the 
prejudice against the feathers of certain birds in beds 
and pillows, or is there some special connection 
between feathers and rain? More particularly in 
Australia feathers and hair are associated with rain- 

It will be noticed that in China the drought-causing 
demon grows the feathers on its own body, whereas 
in Bohemia it merely lies on a feathered pillow. That 
the two beliefs had a common origin, and that the two 
British superstitions already cited may be connected 
with them, will not, perhaps, be regarded as altogether 
beyond the bounds of possibility. 

> Madi Braitmaier in Folk-lore, December 1900, p. 437. 



Various religious notions and practices of the people 
of Weihaiwei have been already dealt with in con- 
nection with other subjects, but it remains to investi- 
gate more thoroughly the relations that exist in this 
part of the Empire between the so-called Three 
Religions of China (Confucianism, Taoism and Buddh- 
ism) and the extent to which they severally con- 
tribute to the religious life of the people. 

A writer quoted in the Ning-hai Chronicle says of 
the inhabitants of this district that their customs are 
thoroughly orthodox, or, as he expresses it, " in com- 
plete accordance with the doctrines of Tsou and Lu," 
— the native states of Mencius and Confucius re- 
spectively. The rituals connected with the worship — • 
if it may be so termed ' — of Confucius himself have, 
however, no place in the ordinary religious observances 
of the millions of China, and this is just as true of 

' It is perhaps still necessary to explain that in spite of the honorary 
epithets heaped on Confucius by imperial decree (as in the decree 
that confers upon him an " equality with heaven and earth ''), Confucius 
is tiot worshipped as a god. This was frankly admitted by Prof. 
Legge in his later years. " I used to think," he said, " that Confucius 
in this service received religious worship, and denounced it. But I 
was wrong. What he received was the homage of gratitude, and not 
the worship of adoration." " The Religion of China " in Religious 
Systems of the World <^\.\v ed.), p. 72. 



Shantung — the modern province which includes the 
two ancient states just mentioned — as of any other 
part of the Empire. Practically those rituals are 
carried out only by the governing classes in their 
official capacity ; one therefore finds few traces of the 
personal Confucian cult except in the cities, at the 
spring and autumn ceremonies held under the auspices 
of the district-magistrates and higher officials in the 
Sheng Miao or Holy (Confucian) Temples. Such 
rites, accordingly, have no place in the Territory of 
Weihaiwei, though they are carried out with all the 
orthodox ceremonies in the neighbouring cities of 
Jung-ch'eng, Wen-teng and Ning-hai. Not only is it 
the case that the officials alone are regarded as com- 
petent to carry out the elaborate memorial or semi- 
religious services connected with the cult of the sage, 
but to a great extent the same is true in respect of 
some of the far more ancient rites which are regarded 
as coming under the head of Confucianism because 
Confucius " transmitted " them to posterity with his 
consecrating approval. Such are the biennial sacri- 
fices to Heaven and Earth and to the Land and Grain, 
and the spring sacrifice at the Altar of Agriculture. 
The high-priest at these great ceremonies is the Em- 
peror himself, and it is only by his deputies (that is 
to say the ti-faug kiian or territorial officials) that 
similar rites can be performed in places other than 
the capital. 

Yet it must not be supposed that there is no such 
thing as Confucianism in China outside the ranks of 
the official classes, Confucian ideals of life and con- 
duct, Confucian doctrines of the relations between 
rulers and ruled, Confucian views of the reciprocal 
rights and duties of parents and children, friends, 
neighbours, strangers, the Confucian sanction of the 
cult of Ancestors, these are all strong living forces 
in the China of to-day. •' Wherever Chinamen go," 
says Dr. H. A. Giles, " they carry with them in their 
hearts the two leading features of Confucianism, the 


patriarchal system and ancestral worship."^ The in- 
flux of new light from the West is doubtless bringing 
about a change in the traditional attitude of the 
Chinese towards the person of the teacher whom their 
forefathers have revered for more than two thousand 
years ; but though the Confucian cult conceivably at 
some future time may be formally disestablished and 
the Confucian temples turned into technical colleges, 
it is to be hoped for the sake of China that many 
centuries will elapse before Confucianism as a moral 
force, as a guide of life, fades away from the hearts 
and minds of the people. Confucianism is not a mere 
code of rules that can be established or abrogated as 
the fancy takes any prominent statesman who happens 
to have the ear of the throne ; it has intertwined itself 
with the very roots of the tree of Chinese life, and if 
that venerable tree, in spite of a mutilated branch or 
two, is still very far from hopeless decay it is to Con- 
fucianism that much of its strength and vigour is 

Perhaps no teacher of antiquity has suffered more 
disastrously at the hands of most of his interpreters 
and translators than has Confucius. Even his Chinese 
commentators have not always been successful ; it is 
then little to be wondered at that European students, 
often lacking both a complete equipment of Chinese 

' Great Religions of the World: Confucianism, pp. 28-9. (Harper 
& Bros., 1 90 1.) 

2 Many missionaries have taken a very different view. Perhaps 
they are right and the opinions expressed in this chapter erroneous — 
let me hasten to disclaim any intention to dogmatise. However this 
may be, I cannot but think that missionaries have not studied, respect- 
fully and tactfully, the susceptibilities of the proud and ancient people 
whom they wish to proselytise when they hint at the approaching dis- 
solution of their Empire and hold out Christianity to them as a con- 
solation for the loss of their nationality and all that their forefathers 
have held dear. "Disorganisation," says Dr. Legge, "will go on to 
destroy it [China] more and more, and yet there is hope for the 
people . . . if they will look away from all their ancient sages, and 
turn to Him, who sends ih&m, along with the dissolutioti of their ancient 
state, the knowledge of Himself, the only living and true God, and ol 


scholarship and a power of sympathetic insight into 
alien modes of thought, and above all possessed by 
an intensely strong bias against " heathendom " and 
" heathen " thinkers, have failed again and again to 
give their fellows-countrymen an adequate account 
either of the Confucian system as a whole or of the 
personal character of the Master himself 

Confucius, as one of his most recent English trans- 
lators reminds us, was one of the most open-minded 
of men, and approached no subject with " foregone 
conclusions"; but the whole attitude of the English- 
man who is still regarded as the great expounder of 
Confucianism to the English-speaking world (Dr. 
Legge) " bespoke one comprehensive and fatal fore- 
gone conclusion — the conviction that it must at every 
point prove inferior to Christianity." ^ 

Now what is the impression that Confucianism gives 
to a European student who is not only a good Chinese 
scholar and therefore able to dispense with trans- 
lations, but is also entirely free from religious pre- 
judice ? 

" The moral teaching of Confucius," says the writer 
just quoted, "is absolutely the purest and least open 
to the charge of selfishness of any in the world. . . . 
' Virtue for virtue's sake ' is the maxim which, if not 
enunciated by him in so many words, was evidently the 

Jesus Christ whom He had sent." Is it to be wondered at that the 
rulers of China look askance at a foreign religion the God of which 
intends to send them — however sweetly the bitter pill may be coated 
— the dissolution of their ancient state ? Perhaps there are still mission- 
aries who would give their approval to these extraordinary words, 
but fortunately there are laymen who take quite a different view of 
China's "ancient sages" whom Dr. Legge recommends the Chinese 
to reject. " Never, perhaps, in the history of the human race," says 
Mr. Lionel Giles, writing of Confucius, " has one man exerted such an 
enormous influence for good on after-generations." {The Sayings of 
Confucius, p. 118.) Yet this is one of the sages from whom we invite 
the Chinese to " look away " I 

' See Mr. L. Giles's Introduction to his translation of The Sayings 
of Confucius, p. 1 2. 


corner-stone of his ethics and the mainspring of his ozvn 
career. . . , Virtue resting on anything but its own 
basis would not have seemed to him virtue in the 
true sense at all, but simply another name for pru- 
dence, foresight, or cunning." ^ 

I have italicised certain words in this quotation 
for a reason which will soon be apparent. As is 
well known, Confucianism and ancestor-worship, as 
well as Buddhism and Taoism, all established them- 
selves in Japan. Confucianism is said to have entered 
Japan in the sixth century of our era, though it 
remained in a stationary position, somewhat inferior 
in influence to Buddhism, for about a thousand years. 
But during the last three hundred years at least, " the 
developed Confucian philosophy," says an authority 
on Japanese religion,- " has been the creed of a 
majority of the educated men of Japan." Later on 
he refers to " the prevalence of the Confucian ethics 
and their universal acceptance by the people of 
Japan." ^ Of course the Confucian system underwent 
certain changes in its new island home, as Dr. Griffis 
is careful to point out, — especially in the direction of 
emphasising loyalty to sovereign and overlord : but 
it still remained recognisable Confucianism. Mr. P. 
Vivian, in a highly interesting volume,'* mentions the 
fact that " Confucianism is an agnostic ethical system 
which the educated classes of Japan have adopted 
for centuries, and its splendid results are just now 
much in evidence." Later on he quotes an exceed- 
ingly significant and important statement made by 
the Rev. Henry Scott Jeffreys, a missionary in Japan. 
" After seven years' residence among this people I 
wish to place on record my humble testimony to 
their native virtues. . . . They love virtue for its own 

' Op. dt. p 26. 

* Dr. W. E. Griffis, The Religions of Japan (4th ed.), p. 108. 
^ Op. cit. p. no. 

* The Churches and Modern Thought (2nd ed.), p. 38. 


sake^ and not from fear of punishment or hope of reward." 
Could higher praise than this be given to any people 
on earth ? He goes on, " The conversion of this 
people to the Christian faith is a most complex and 
perplexing problem, not because they are so bad 
but because they are so good." ^ 

I have italicised the words that are of special in- 
terest when considered in connection with the state- 
ment already quoted from Mr. Lionel Giles. It is 
true that the praise given to the Japanese is a great 
deal too high : there is no nation, whether Christian 
or non-Christian, that deserves such praise. At the 
same time most Europeans might find it no easy 
task to prove to the satisfaction of an intelligent 
visitor from another planet that the Christian nations 
are, on the whole, more virtuous than the people of 
Japan. The European advocate would, of course, 
lay stress on the alleged weakness of Japanese com- 
mercial morality, and perhaps with very good cause. 
But there is no valid reason for supposing that the 
Japanese, without Christianity, cannot and will not 
amend their ways in this respect, and in any case 
commercial immorality receives no more justification 
from Confucian than it does from Christian ethics. ^ 

But Japan is not China : and if Confucianism be 
such a good thing, exclaims the wondering European, 
how is it that China is in a state of decay, that 
Chinese officials are corrupt, that the population is 
sodden with opium, that the country is only now, 
after centuries of sloth and stagnation, beginning to 
show an interest in Western civilisation and modern 
science? The real condition of China, or at least 

' Op. cit. pp. 398-9. One is sorely tempted to ask the question, 
" Then why not leave well alone ? " 

* Prof. H. A. Giles says in a recent publication : " It is beyond 
question that to the precepts and faithful practice of Confucianism 
must be attributed the high moral elevation of the Japanese people ; 
an elevation which has enabled them to take an honourable place 
among the great nations of the world." {Adversaria Sinica, p. 202.) 



of the Chinese people, is perhaps not so rotten as it 
is sometimes beheved to be, in spite of the grave 
political and social dangers that at present lie ahead. 
But waiving this point and admitting that reforms 
are coming not a day too soon, let us consider one 
or two of the most obvious causes to which the 
present state of China may be attributed. China 
was for many centuries so easily supreme in her 
own quarter of the globe that a strenuous life be- 
came for her unnecessary. Conflict is a law of 
nature, but owing to peculiar circumstances China 
as a nation became to a great extent temporarily 
exempt from that law.^ She sank into inactivity be- 
cause it was not necessary for her, as it was and is 
for the great nations of Europe, to be continually 
sharpening her wits against those of her neighbours, 
or to be for ever engaged in the Sisyphean task of 
redressing " the balance of power." Do the nations 
of modern Europe sufficiently realise to what extent 
they owe their progress and civilisation and even 
their mechanical inventions to the fact that they have 
all been pitted against each other in a more or less 
equal struggle for existence in which none has ever 
succeeded in establishing a supremacy over all the 
rest ? Had powerful and united non-Chinese king- 
doms established themselves in the Indo-Chinese 
peninsula, in India itself, in the plains and mountains 
of Tibet and Mongolia, in Korea and in mediaeval 
japan, — kingdoms capable of contending with China 
on fairly level terms, competent to defend themselves 
against her attacks yet not strong enough to over- 
come her, — can it seriously be supposed that China 

* " It is through conflict alone that the fittest can be selected, be- 
cause it is through conflict alone that they are aff"orded the chance 
of manifesting those qualities, physiological and psychical, which 
make them the fittest. And, as a matter of fact, conflict is the law of 
Nature. It is no exaggeration, nor is it a mere figure of speech, to say 
that progress is accomplished through blood." — Chatterton Hill, 
Heredity and Selection in Sociology (A. & C. Black : 1907), p. 355. 


would have been politically corrupt, unwarlike and 
unprogressive to-day ? 

That unhappy bird the great auk ceased to make 
use of its wings — perhaps owing to a fatal love for 
fish — and thereby incurred the punishment that in- 
exorable Nature provides for those who neglect to 
exercise the faculties she provides them with. Some- 
what in the same way China, fatally set at liberty 
from the invigorating impetus of competition, seems 
to have lost the use of those powers and qualities 
which ages ago carried her to the apex of the 
Asiatic world. Unlike the great auk, however, China 
has not yet become extinct, nor indeed is extinction 
likely to be her fate. To take an illustration of a 
very different kind, is it not the case that many 
a successful and energetic man of business is only 
saved from yielding to the insidious habit of taking 
afternoon naps by the incessant ringing of his 
telephone-bell ? For ages China could count on un- 
disturbed slumber whenever she required it — and 
it must be admitted that she seemed to require it 
long and often. The telephone-bell has now been 
ringing her up continuously for some little time ; she 
ignored it at first, or perhaps it only gave a new 
colour to her dreams, or occasionally turned them 
into nightmares ; but now she has risen, slowly and 
unwillingly it may be, and has put the receiver to her 
ear. She has taken down the messages sent her, and 
she is beginning to understand them ; and among 
other things she is realising that afternoon slumbers 
for her are joys of the past. 

If China thinks, or Europe persuades her into the 
belief, that her backward position among the great 
Powers of the world is due to Confucianism, she will 
be doing a great wrong to the memory of one ot 
her greatest sons and a greater wrong to herself.^ It 

' " We think that Confucius cut the tap-root of all true progress, and 
therefore is largely responsible for the arrested development of China." 
(GrifKs, The Religions of Japatt (4th ed.), pp. 104-5.) See also the 


would be just as reasonable to make the Founder of 
Christianity, one of the most gracious and most pitiful 
of men, responsible for the injustice and cruelty of the 
Crusades or for the frightful atrocities practised in 
Europe on the bodies of heretics, or for such priestly 
and monkish abuses as the sale of " pardons" and the 
traffic in saintly relics and fragments of the " True 
Cross " ; indeed it would perhaps be rather more 
reasonable, for the mediaeval popes and monks at least 
professed to act in the name of their Lord, whereas it 
is not in the name of Confucius that offices in China 
are bought and sold or that Chinese magistrates take 
bribes and "squeezes," or that the naval and military 
defences of the country have been allowed to fall into 
decay. Does any one in Europe now suppose that if 
Christ had returned to earth in the Middle Ages He 
would have accepted a seat beside the Grand In- 

Lectures delivered by Mr. E. R. Bernard in Salisbury Cathedral in 
1903-4. The latter says, " Now that we have concluded our survey of 
Confucius's work and system, I should like to draw your attention to a 
practical inference from the results attained by it. The results are the 
cotidition of Chinese society at the present day with its strange mixture 
of benevolence and cruelty, industry and fraud, domestic virtues and 
impurity. And the inference is the small value of an elevated system 
of ethics without religion, for of religion there is nothing in the 
'Analects' from beginning to end." (The italics are mine.) One 
might almost suppose from this that in Christian England there is no 
cruelty, no fraud, no impurity. If a Chinese were to go to England 
and declare that the vices of the country were the results of Christianity 
he would probably be anathematised as a wicked blasphemer and 
hounded out of the land ; why should the Western nations show surprise 
if the Chinese are indignant with foreigners who use words which 
in their obvious and natural sense would lead the world to suppose 
that the cases of cruelty, fraud and impurity one meets with in China 
are the result of Confucianism ! As an offset to the dictum of Mr. 
Bernard (who I gather has never been in China) I quote the opinion of 
one who has made China and the Chinese his lifelong study. "The 
cardinal virtues which are most admired by Christians are fully in- 
culcated in the Confucian canon, and the general practice of these is 
certainly up to the average standard exhibited by foreign nations." 
{Religions oj the World, pp. 26-7: "Confucianism," by Prof. H. A. 


quisitors and joined them in sentencing innocent men 
and women "to the thumbscrew and the stake, for the 
glory of the Lord"? Or that if He had appeared in 
England in 1646 He would have supported the Act 
which made it a capital offence to deny the truth of 
any of the dogmas that the English Church of that 
period chose to consider essential? 

This is how a papal legate in 1209 wrote to 
Innocent III. after a victorious crusade against the 
Albigenses : " Our troops, sparing neither sex nor age, 
put to the sword nearly twenty thousand; splendid 
deeds were accomplished in the overthrow of the enemy, 
the whole city was sacked and burned by a divine re- 
venge marvellous fierce." A pope may have taken this 
doughty champion of the Church to his bosom, but is 
it conceivable that the Carpenter of Nazareth would 
have greeted this monster, whose sword was reeking 
with human blood, with the welcoming words, " Well 
done, thou good and faithful servant " ? If we refuse, 
as we well may, to lay on Jesus the least tittle of 
responsibility for the terrible crimes perpetrated in 
Europe for many consecutive centuries in the name 
of the Christian religion, would it not be becoming on 
our part to hesitate before we ascribe the faults and 
disasters of the Chinese people and their Government 
wholly or even partially to their faith in the teachings 
of Confucius ? 

I once heard a kind-hearted Englishman say that he 
could forgive China all her faults except the tor- 
turing of prisoners in the law-courts and in the gaols. 
Torture in China — which is very slowly becoming 
obsolete — has very naturally made Europeans shudder 
with horror : but where does Confucius give counten- 
ance to torture ? And after all, the extent of China's 
crime is only this, that she has not abolished the 
practice of torture quite so early as the nations of 
Western Europe and America. Perhaps the mission- 
aries and others who have pointed out to the Chinese 
the enormity of their crime in permitting torture have 


sometimes omitted to state that only in comparatively 
recent times have we ourselves become so merciful 
as to forbid the practice. Without dwelling on the 
abominable punishments devised for heretical offenders 
in every country in Europe, it is as well to remember 
that torture was continually inflicted in England 
during the Tudor reigns/ and also under the Stuarts. 
In Scotland it was long a recognised part of criminal 
procedure, and was not finally abolished in that 
country till the eighteenth century.^ The Most High 
and Mighty Prince whose name adorns the front page 
of our English Bibles, in one memorable case directed 
the application, if necessary, of " the most severe " 
tortures, and expressed the devout wish that the 
Almighty would " speed the good work." 

When confronted with so lofty an ethical system 
as that taught by Confucius, European writers who 
wish to prove the justice of their contention that *' it 
must at every point prove inferior to Christianity " 
are naturally driven to make the utmost of any passage 
in the Chinese classics that appears to reveal some- 
thing of the Chinese sage's moral imperfections. 
Just as an anti-foreign Chinese commentator on the 
Christian religion might utilise certain texts in the Old 
Testament to show that the Christian God was 
neither just nor merciful, and certain texts in the 
New Testament to show that Jesus of Nazareth 
shared the superstitions of his age and was sometimes 
lacking in self-control, so European expounders of 
Confucianism have seized upon a fev/ passages in the 
Confucian canon to prove to their own satisfaction that 
the great Sage of China did not always speak the 
truth. The passages are three in number. In one we 
are told that a certain brave man was commended by 
the Master for his absence of boastfulness, because 
though he nobly brought up the rear during a retreat, 

1 As Hallam says, " The rack seldom stood idle in the Tower for all 
the latter part of Elizabeth's reign." 
' By an Act passed in the seventh year of Queen Anne. 


he said, " It is not courage that makes me last, it is my 
horse that won't gallop fast enough."^ As courage 
really was the cause of his conduct. Prof Legge and 
those who think with him take the view that the man's 
own explanation of what he had done was untruthful 
and that Confucius by awarding him praise condoned 
a lie. Considering that Confucius's only remark on 
the subject was that the man was no braggart, probably 
few of us except sanctimonious pedants would say 
that either the sage or his hero was guilty of an act 
or a word that was in any way discreditable. 

In another famous passage it is narrated that " A 
man who wanted to see Confucius called on him. 
Confucius, not wishing to see him, sent to say he was 
sick. When the servant with the message went to 
the door, Confucius took up his musical instrument 
and sang aloud purposely to let the visitor hear it 
and know that he was not really sick." ^ It is 
interesting to note that in citing this little story as 
evidence of Confucius's lack of veracity. Prof Legge 
omits to quote the second part of the passage,^ 
though it ought to be obvious to the most casual 
reader that it was only for the sake of the remark 
about the music that the story was preserved in the 
Confucian canon at all. So far from proving that 
Confucius could tell a lie, it goes to show that even in 
small matters of everyday social intercourse Confucius's 
nature was superior to all the little " white lies " and 
deceptions that are and no doubt always have been 
continually practised in " Society." Probably in his 
day, as in our own, it was considered more polite 
to an unwelcome visitor to plead indisposition or 
absence from home as an excuse for not admitting 
him than to send him the blunt message, "You are not 
wanted : go away ! " Confucius, however, wishing to 
make it quite clear to his visitor that the plea of 

' Mr. L. Giles's translation of Ltm Vu, vi. 13. 

' Mr. Ku Hung-ming's translation of Lun Yii, xvii. 20. 

' See Legge's Chinese Classics (2nd. ed.), vol. i. p. 100. 


sickness was merely a social subterfuge and was not 
intended to deceive (as a lie must surely be), took up his 
musical instrument and played it in his visitor's hearing. 

So far from this passage proving that Confucius 
had an inadequate regard for the truth, it will perhaps 
strike a good many people as indicating that un- 
truth and insincerity were abhorrent to Confucius's 
nature : and this was undoubtedly the impression 
that the disciple who remembered and recorded the 
incident wished to convey. 

So much for two out of the three solitary occasions 
on which Confucius is said to have laid himself open 
to what Prof. Legge calls " the most serious charge 
that can be brought against him, the charge of 
insincerity." The events recorded in connection with 
the third occasion are much more grave and deserve 
closer attention. The story goes that Confucius 
when travelling to a place called Wei was captured by 
a rebel-brigand of that state, who would only release 
him on condition that he would take an oath to give 
up his proposed expedition to Wei. Confucius took 
the oath, and on his release forthwith continued his 
journey to the place he had sworn to avoid. On one 
of his disciples asking him whether it was a right thing 
to break his word, Confucius replied : " It was a forced 
oath. The spirits do not hear such." Now of the moral 
question here involved Sir Robert Douglas takes the 
view that it is "a nice question for casuists," but 
expresses the conviction that by most people Confucius 
" will not be held to be very blameworthy for that 
which, at the worst, was a mistaken notion of 
truthfulness." ^ On the other hand many of us will 
hold the equally strong conviction that if this story is 
true there is an ugly blot on the character of Confucius. 
If he deliberately and knowingly broke his word, 
as this story would indicate, then he was no gentleman.^ 

' Sir Robert Douglas, Confucianism and Taouism (5th ed.), p. 146. 
* This would certainly have been Montaigne's view, See, for a 
very apposite passage, Essays, Bk. iii. ch. i, 


Le bon sang ne pent mentir, as the old French proverb 
says. Not his can have been what Burke in thrilling 
words calls ** that chastity of honour, which felt a 
stain like a wound." But the evidence from other 
sources that Confucius was a gentleman — a man to 
whom truth and sincerity were very precious — is 
Overwhelming. His teachings and actions, so far as 
we know them — all but this one — prove conclusively 
that he laid almost greater emphasis on truth and 
honour than on any other quality. " Hold faithfulness 
and sincerity," he said, "as first principles."^ One of 
his English commentators remarks that " the earnest- 
ness with which he insists on this, repeating the same 
injunction over and over again, is a point in his teach- 
ing which is well worthy of admiration."^ 

How then is this strange story of the broken oath 
to be explained ? Probably by the simple statement 
that the story is not true. The incident is one which 
finds no place in the accepted Confucian canon : as 
Prof. H. A. Giles says, it "occurs in an admittedly spu- 
rious work,"^ — namely the Chia Yti, which in its present 
form is believed to have been composed in the third 
century a.d. The only other authority for it is the 
great historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Confucius was born 
in 551 B.C., Ssu-ma Ch'ien no less than four hundred 
years later. It may, doubtless, be urged by those who 
believe in the story and wish at the same time to save 
the honour of Confucius, that the standard of truth 
at that time was very low and that Confucius was 
only acting in accordance with the practice of the 
age in breaking his plighted word. But we have no 
reason whatever to suppose that the standard was 

' This is Legge's translation of Lun Yii i. 8. The doctrine is 
repeated in ix. 24. Cf. also Luft Yii ii. 22 and many other passages 
in this and other Confucian books. 

' Sir Robert Douglas, op. cit. p. 114. 

^ " Confucianism," in Great Religions of the World, p. 26. See also 
Prof. Giles's Chinese Literature, p. 48, and Wylie's Notes on Chinese 
Literature (1902 ed.), p. 82, 


any lower than it is to-day in Christendom : and what 
no writer, so far as I am aware, seems to have made 
a note of is the important fact that the story, if true at 
all, is of itself a clear proof that the standard of honour 
was remarkably high. The rebel would not have 
given Confucius the option of taking an oath unless 
there had been an expectation on his part that 
Confucius would keep that oath ; and if the expec- 
tation existed, it must even in those far-off days have 
been founded on a belief that a gentleman's word was 
" as good as his bond." Thus if we believe in the 
story we are compelled to adopt the conclusion that 
Confucius was not, as one would have thought, 
superior to his contemporaries in matters of morals, 
but was immeasurably their inferior : a conclusion 
which is patently absurd. To suppose after hearing 
the evidence of the canonical books that Confucius 
was a man who could deliberately break his word 
seems almost as unreasonable as to suppose that Sir 
Walter Scott ("true gentleman, heart, blood and bone," 
as Tennyson called him) could have acted dishonour- 
ably or that Sir Philip Sidney, the prince of chivalry, 
could have told a lie. 

I cannot hope that these remarks will re-establish 
Confucius's reputation as a lover of truth in the minds 
of those who wish for proselytising purposes to con- 
vince the Chinese that their sage was a grievous 
sinner. Such persons will doubtless in any case 
continue to hold that the Chinese as a people are 
untruthful, and that whether or not the untruth- 
fulness is a legacy left them by Confucius it is a vice 
which only Christianity can extirpate. This question 
of Chinese untruthfulness we have already considered,^ 
and a few words are all that is necessary here. 

Persons who believe that the untruthfulness of the 
Chinese (presuming that it exists) is due to their 
" heathenism " and that truth is a typically or exclu- 
sively Christian virtue may have some difficulty in 

' See pp. 108 seq. 

' t-^ 

















proving the justice of their view. " We have proof 
in the Bible," as Herbert Spencer remarks, "that apart 
from the lying which constituted false witness, and 
was to the injury of a neighbour, there was among 
the Hebrews but little reprobation of lying." ^ He 
goes on to admit, very properly, that in the writings 
of the Hebrew prophets and in parts of the New 
Testament lying is strongly condemned. Missionaries 
often say that the Chinese will never become a truthful 
people until they become a Christian people. If truth- 
fulness had been an unknown virtue until Christianity 
appeared, one might perhaps be unable to question the 
accuracy of this statement. But what does Herodotus, 
writing in the fourth century b.c, tell us about the 
Persians of his day? "They educate their children, 
beginning at five years old and going on till twenty, 
in three things only, in riding, in shooting, and in 
speaking the truth . . . and the most disgraceful thing 
in their estimation is to tell a lie."^ 

And would not most of us trust the word of 
Socrates, if we had the chance, as fully as we would 
trust the word of an archbishop ? If truthfulness is 
a characteristically Christian virtue, how was it that 
in the Merovingian period " oaths taken by rulers, 
even with their hands on the altar, were forthwith 
broken " ? ^ And what are we to say of the alleged 
Jesuitical doctrine that the end justifies the means, or 
about that immoral dogma of the Decretals (surely 
just as bad as Confucius's supposed doctrine regarding 
forced oaths) : Juramcntiim contra utilitatem ccclesi- 
asticam praestitum non tenet? 

' Principles of Ethics, i. 402. Herbert Spencer goes on to refer to 
I Kings xxii. 22, Ezekiel xiv. 9, Genesis xxvi. 12, and also to the Jacob 
and Esau incident and to the occasion " when Jeremiah tells a false- 
hood at the king's suggestion." The Rev. A. W. Oxford, writing on 
ancient Judaism, reminds us that "Jehovah protects Abraham and 
Isaac after they have told lies, and punishes the innocent foreigner." 
Religious Sjslcms of the World (8th ed.), p. 60. 

' Herodotus, translated by G. C. Macaulay, vol. i. pp. 69-70, 

' Herbert Spencer, op, cit, vol. i. pp. 403-4. 


There are non-Christian peoples in southern India 
to-day of whom it has been said that they are 
characterised by "complete truthfulness. They do 
not know how to tell a lie"; in central India certain 
aborigines are described as " the most truthful of 
beings." ^ But the list might be indefinitely extended. 
There are numerous races in the world among whom 
truth is held in the highest honour, and as many 
others who appear to regard a skilful liar as a 
specially clever fellow. There is certainly very little 
reason to believe that truth is a monopoly of the 
Christian or that the " heathen" is necessarily a liar.^ 

^ Both cases are cited by Herbert Spencer, op. cit. p. 405. That 
philosopher argues that " it is the presence or absence of despotic rule 
which leads to prevalent falsehood or prevalent truth." 

' Prof. Legge evidently took the view that truthfulness belonged only 
to Christians. He states that a love of truth can only be maintained, 
and a lie shrunk from with shame, through " the living recognition of 
a God of truth, and all the sanctions of revealed religion." {Chinese 
Classics, vol. i. p. loi.) By "revealed religion" Legge means, of 
course, Christianity. It would be interesting to know how he would 
have accounted for truthfulness among numerous non-Christian races 
of our own time or among such people as the ancient Persians. 
Perhaps as regards the latter case he would have done it by deny- 
ing the capacity of a Greek (especially of a Greek who has been 
described as the "father of lies") to judge of truthfulness! Prof. 
Martin in The Lore of Cathay (p. 177) says that while Confucius's 
writings (presumably he means his recorded sayings) " abound in the 
praise of virtue, not a line can be found inculcating the pursuit of 
truth." This is an amazing misstatement : let us hope it was written 
inadvertently. A third missionary, Dr. Wells Williams, makes state- 
ments regarding the character and morals of the Chinese people that 
are so grossly unfair as to be almost unreadable \Middle Kingdom, 
vol. i. pp. 833-6 (1883 edition)]. Mr. Arthur Davenport in his China 
from Within (T. Fisher Unwin, 1904) quotes from a missionary's letter 
which appeared in Chifta's Millions (a missionary publication) in 
February 1903. "What a mass of evil the missionary in China has to 
contend with ! . . . Certainly there are more souls being lost every day 
in China than in any country in the world . . . the Bible declares that 
no liar or idolater can ever reach heaven, and all these masses of people 
are idolaters and liars ; for ' China is a nation of liars,' consequently 
there must be among the lost, among those going to eternal death, a 
greater number from the Chinese than from any nation on earth. . . . 
For though they be all liars and idolaters, they are the most industrious 


The average Englishman or American does not always 
find that his pious acquaintances are the most truthful :^ 
indeed in many cases he will prefer to trust the word 
of a man who from the Church's point of view is a 
notorious sinner but who happens at the same time 
to be a gentleman. It is of course easy to declare 
that a Christian who tells a lie cannot be a true 
Christian. It is equally easy and equally just to 
assert that the native of China who tells a lie cannot 
be a true Confucian. 

If in Weihaiwei as elsewhere in rural China the 
influence of Confucius is to be traced not in temples 
and religious or commemorative ceremonial but in 
the customs, manners and character of the people, 
it is clear that a description of the Confucianism of 
this corner of the Empire would involve a repetition 
of much that has been already set forth at length 
in the course of the foregoing pages. But there 
is a feature of Confucianism that so far has been 

of people, and of such intellectual capacity as to be able to compete 
for the highest scholarships in the Universities of Europe and 
America. . . . We thank God with all our heart that there are now so 
many different Protestant Missions at work in Chehkiang, each having 
godly, earnest, and faithful men representing them." No wonder 
Mr. Davenport, after quoting this astonishing effusion, remarks that 
"this rendering of thanks to God that there are now so many 'godly, 
earnest, and faithful ' foreign missionaries amongst this ' nation of 
liars' forcibly reminds us of the parable of the Pharisee and the 
Publican." It is pitiful to think that missionaries of the class to which 
the writer of this letter belongs are still at work in China, " converting 
the heathen." Let us hope that the day may come when the generous- 
hearted people who support Foreign Missions with their money and 
services will feel justified in insisting that educated gentlemen, and no 
others, are selected for work in the Mission field. Fortunately the 
Mission Boards appear to be exercising much greater care in their 
selection of missionaries for China than they did formerly ; but how can 
they undo the harm that has already been done ? 

' " A Highlander, who considered himself a devout Christian, is 
reported to have said of an acquaintance : ' Donald's a rogue, and a 
cheat, and a villain, and a liar ; but he's a good, pious man.' Probably 
Donald 'kept the Sabbath — and everything else he could lay his hands 
on.'" — D. G. Ritchie, Natural Rights (2nd ed.), p. 190. 


treated less thoroughly than it deserves, although 
it constitutes by far the most important element in 
the religious life of the people. This is the cult of 

There is perhaps a popular tendency in Europe 
(notwithstanding the doctrines of Herbert Spencer) 
to regard this cult as something peculiar to the Far 
East and without parallel in Western modes of 
religious thought and practice : but, as students of 
comparative religion well know, such is not the case. 
That ancestor-worship or something very like it 
existed among the ancient Egyptians might be assumed 
from the extraordinary measures which they took to 
preserve the bodies of the dead : but we know from 
other evidence that the ancestral Ghost was regularly 
approached with veneration and sacrifices. Cakes 
and other articles were offered to the Egyptian ka just 
as they are offered to the spirits of the dead in China 
to-day; and, as in China, the sacrificial ceremonies 
were made the occasion of family gatherings and 
genial festivities.^ Great religious revolutions have 
taken place in Egypt in the course of ages, but among 
the Egyptian Mohammedans and the Copts traces of 
ancestor-worship exist to this day. The evidence at 
present available hardly justifies us in declaring that 
this cult was also practised in Babylonia, though it 
seems at least certain that heroes and distinguished 
men were deified and venerated. There is less doubt 

• The parallels between Egyptian and Chinese culture are not 
perhaps very numerous or instructive ; it may therefore be worth while 
to mention one that is not without interest though it is doubtless 
accidental. The Milky Way in Egypt was known as the Heavenly 
Nile : in China it is named the Heavenly River {THen Ho). It would 
perhaps be correct to translate the Chinese ho in this case as " Yellow 
River " : for when the word ho (river) is spoken of without qualification 
it is the Yellow River (near the banks of which most of the old Chinese 
capitals were situated) that is understood. With the phrases Heavenly 
Nile and Heavenly Yellow River may be compared an old English 
name for the Milky Way — Watling Street. (See A. Lang's Custom atid 
Myth [1901 ed.], p. 122.) 


about the early Israelites. " It is impossible to avoid 
the conclusion," says the Rev. A. W, Oxford/ "that 
the pre-Jehovistic worship was that of ancestors." He 
observes that ** the importance attached to a father's 
blessing before his death and the great fear caused by 
a curse (Judges xvii. 2) were relics of the old cult of 

The importance of the same cult in Greece and 
Rome can hardly be exaggerated. In Greece, Zeus 
himself was regarded in one of his aspects as irarpwo-i, 
the ancestral god. " The central point of old Roman 
religion," as Grant Allen has said,- " was clearly the 
household ; the family ghosts or lares were the most 
honoured gods." In various parts of the " Dark 
Continent " ancestor-worship is the prevailing religion. 
"Nowhere," says Max Muller, "is a belief and a 
worship of ancestral spirits so widely spread as in 
Africa."^ That it existed and still exists in many 
Eastern countries besides China need hardly be em- 
phasised. It is deeply embedded in Hinduism, and in 
Japan it has grafted itself on Shinto.* 

It is perhaps of greater interest to Europeans to 
know that the cult of ancestors existed in pre-Christian 
days in the forests of old Germany. " Our early 
Teutonic forefathers," says Mr. F. York Powell, 
" worshipped the dead and treated their deceased 

' See article on Judaism in The Religious Systems of the World 
(Sonnenschein & Co. 8th ed.), p. 56. 

^ The Evolution of the Idea of God, pp. 369-70. See also Tylor, 
Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. 120 ; Fustel de Coulanges, La Cite 
Antique ; and T. R. Glover's Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman 
Empit'e^ pp. 14-15. 

^ Last Essays, Second Series (1901 ed.), p. 45. 

* Ancestor-worship has been called " the foundation and chief 
characteristic of Shinto " (D. Goh in Religious Systems of the World, 
8th ed., p. 99) ; but though this is the statement of a scholarly native 
of Japan, it is as well to observe that Dr. Aston, one of the best 
European authorities on the subject, holds a somewhat different view 
as to the connection between Shinto (in its earliest form) and the cult 
of ancestors. "All the great deities of the older Shinto," he says, 
"are not Man but Nature gods." {Shifito, p. 9.) 


ancestors as gods." ^ But old customs, especially 
religious ones, die hard ; and so we need not be 
surprised to find that just as the Isis and Horus of 
the ancient Egyptians have become the Madonna and 
Child of the modern Italians,^ so the ancestor-worship 
of our Teutonic forefathers has been transformed 
under Christian influences into solemn commemora- 
tions of the dead, and masses for the souls of the 
" faithful departed." The transformation, indeed, is in 
some places hardly complete to this day. 

" Although full ancestor-worship," says Dr. Tylor, 
" is not practised in modern Christendom, there re- 
mains even now within its limits a well-marked 
worship of the dead. A crowd of saints, who were 
once men and women, now form an order of inferior 
deities, active in the affairs of men, and receiving from 
them reverence and prayer, thus coming strictly under 
the definition of manes. This Christian cultus of the 
dead, belonging in principle to the older manes 
worship, was adapted to answer another purpose in 
the course of religious transition in Europe."^ 

It appears that in one part of Christendom, at least, 
actual ancestor-worship is not yet extinct. In back- 
ward parts of Russia at this day, we are told, " the 
dead in return for the offerings are supplicated to 
guard and foster the family and crops. ' Ye spirits of 

' "Teutonic Heathendom," in Religious Systems of the World 
(8th ed.), p. 279. 

* See T. R. Glover's Conflict of Religiofis in the Early Rotnan 
Empire, p. 23. See also F. C. Conybeare's admirable work Myth, 
Magic, and Morals, in which he says, " Latin hymns in honour of Isis 
seem to have been appropriated to Mary with little change ; and I 
have seen statues of Isis set up in Christian churches as images of the 
Virgin " (p. 230). He also points out that in Asia Minor " the Virgin 
took the place of Cybele and Artemis." 

' Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. pp. 120 seq. See also vol. i. pp. 96 7 
for mention of vestiges of sacrificial ceremonies in England in honour 
of the dead. With reference to the gradual transformation of the old 
Roman feasts for the dead into festivals of the Christian martyrs, see 
T. R. Glover's Conflict of Religiofis in the Early Roman Empire, 
pp. 15-16. 


the long departed, guard and preserve us well. Make 
none of us cripples. Send no plagues upon us. Cause 
the corn, the wine, and the food to prosper with us.' "^ 
Evidently if ancestor-worship is idolatrous, Europe 
is not without its idolatry even in this twentieth 

The Ancestral cult, as every one knows, received 
the hall-mark of Confucius's approval, though Con- 
fucius himself did not profess to be a theologian or to 
speak with authority on matters spiritual. It is an 
extraordinary thing that Confucius's reticence with 
regard to these matters has been selected by Christian 
missionaries as a subject for special reproach. Prof. 
Legge, after quoting some of Confucius's utterances 
on the subject of the unseen world, asks why he did 
not " candidly tell his real thoughts on so interesting 
a subject," ^ and exclaims " Surely this was not the 
teaching proper to a sage." Elsewhere he solves this 
question himself, for he decides that Confucius was 
no sage.^ Unfortunately he does not define the word 
Sage, though he seems to imply that the word can be 
fittingly applied only to a Christian teacher. He did 
not perhaps quite appreciate the significance of the 
Horatian remark Vixcre fortes ante Agamemnona. 

Meadows remarks that every consistent Confucianist 
ought to be a blank atheist, though probably he is 
using the word in the sense that used erroneously to 
be attached to it a good many years ago,^ when 
" atheist " was the term applied to all persons who 
were outside the Christian fold. In that sense Con- 
fucius was an atheist, and inasmuch as he lived half a 
millennium before Christ was born it is obvious that 
he could not possibly have been anything else. 
Mr. Arthur H. Smith states that the mass of Con- 

' Dr. L. R. Farnell in Hibbert Journal, January 1909, p. 426. 
^ Chinese Classics, vol. i. (2nd ed.), p. 100. 
^ Op. cit. vol. iii. pt. i. p. 200. 

^ See Max Mullen's Lectures on the Origin of Religion (1901 ed.), 
pp. 310-16. 



fucian scholars are "thoroughly agnostic and atheistic,"^ 
though if these terms are correctly used it is difficult 
to see how they could be both at the same time. 
Mr. W. E. Griffis thinks it " more than probable" that 
Confucius laid " unnecessary emphasis upon social 
and political duties, and may not have been sufficiently 
interested in the honour to be paid to Shang Ti or 
God. He practically ignored the Godward side of 
men's duties." ^ Confucius would probably have said 
that if people fully and completely discharge all their 
duties on the manward side they need have no fear 
that they are neglecting the Godward side. Griffis 
goes on to compare Confucianism with a child-headed 
giant, because it is exaggerated on its moral and 
ceremonial side as compared with its spiritual develop- 
ment. It must surely be clear to an unprejudiced mind 
that Confucius deserves no blame whatever for omitting 
to lay down the law on subjects about which he never 
professed to know anything. Men have existed on 
this planet for tens of thousands of years : if, as many 
occidental peoples hold, the Deity revealed Himself 
only nineteen centuries ago, it is absurd to find fault 
with an honest philosopher for not having known 
facts which had been preserved as a secret in the 
archives of heaven for countless ages in the past 
and were to remain undisclosed for another five 
hundred years in the future. Some of us, perhaps, 
may be inclined to the opinion that the great secret 
remains a secret still. " We are born to enquire after 
truth," said the wise Montaigne ; " it belongs to a 
greater power to possess it." But supposing for the 
sake of argument that Truth, or a certain aspect of 
Truth, came to man's knowledge by a miraculous 
act on the part of a Divine Power nineteen centuries 
ago, one cannot blame Confucius for not having 
obtained it from heaven five hundred years sooner. 
One might as well blame St. Paul for not anticipating 

' Chinese Characteristics (5th ed.), p 293. 
* The Religions of Japan (4th ed.), p. 104. 


the astronomical discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, 
or St. Augustine for not telling us how to deal with 
the modern Women's Suffrage problem, or the 
Founder of Christianity Himself for not explaining 
the mechanism of motor-omnibuses and aeroplanes. 
Prometheus is said to have succeeded in wrenching a 
valuable secret from heaven without divine permission, 
but Prometheus was a Titan and Confucius never 
pretended to be anything more than a humble-minded 

The remarks made both orally and in writing on 
the subject of Confucius and his religious views are 
often so framed as to convey the idea, either that he 
was somehow to blame for his want of knowledge, 
or that he really knew all the time about God and 
other spiritual beings, but was deliberately and 
wickedly keeping the knowledge up his sleeve. It is 
presumably for this reason that some missionaries 
have found it their painful duty to explain to the 
Chinese (whom they are trying to convert to a beliel 
in a merciful and loving Deity) that Confucius is now 
writhing in hell.^ It is open to them to add that 
good Chinese Christians may look forward to the 
happy day when they, from their heavenly mansions, 
may behold their national Sage undergoing the tortures 
prescribed for him in the nethermost regions : for was 
it not Tertullian who, perhaps in a spirit of irony or 
mockery, declared ^ that one of the joys of the blessed 
when they reach heaven will be to watch the torments 
of the damned ? ^ Fortunately bigotry and intolerance 

» See pp. 353-4. 

^ De Specitlis, 30. 

^ In nothing have we moved away from the pious savagery of a 
former age more noticeably than in the average Christian's attitude 
towards hell. "I don't believe in hell," is a very common observation 
nowadays even on the part of those who assert themselves to be good 
Christians, though surely from the Church's point of view the position 
is a highly heretical one. Modem humanitarianism is gradually teaching 
the " plain man " to see that if a heaven exists, and if human souls are 
to attain to a condition of perfect happiness there, it is inconceivable 


of this kind are (tlianks partly to secular pressure) 
rapidly disappearing from Christian apologetics, but 
the charge against Confucius that his views on 
spiritual matters were not only unsound but were 
also discreditable to himself and to those who followed 
his teachings, is still occasionally heard in the mis- 
sionary camp. 

It is perhaps worth while to consider briefly what 
those views were. They are not to be found in any 
consecutive form ; all one can do is to pick up hints 
here and there and piece them together as best one 
may. It must be remembered that Confucius seems 
very rarely to have offered any remarks on spiritual 
matters on his own initiative : he did not profess to 
be an authority on such subjects, and it was only in 
answer to direct questions that he said anything at 
all. His attitude may be compared with that of 
Mohammed, who administered rebukes to his disciples 
when he heard them debating about fate and destiny. 
Such things, he taught, were beyond all human know- 
that there can be a hell also : for whatever the Christians of Tertullian's 
day may have deemed necessary to happiness, few if any of us in 
modern times could possibly (without undergoing a fundamental change 
of character) attain complete happiness while in possession of the 
knowledge that certain of our fellow human-beings were undergoing 
eternal torment. The fact that we could ourselves behold the tor- 
mented ones in their misery, so far from being an added source of 
pleasure would surely turn our heavenly joys into dust and ashes. 
We cannot be perfectly happy, as Prof. William James has remarked, 
so long as we know that a single human soul is suffering pain. In a 
book entitled The Future Life aftd Mode?'?i Difficulties, the Rev. F. C. 
Kempson " does not hesitate to defend the belief that there are souls 
which are finally lost, although he deprecates any materialistic pre- 
sentation of that state of loss." As his critic in the Church Quarterly 
Review (April 1909, p. 200) sensibly points out, Mr. Kempson "does 
not fully appreciate the depth of the objections against such a doctrine. 
To many minds, not generally supposed to be tainted with senti- 
mentality, it appears that a universe where there was an ultimate 
loss of souls through the complete determination of the will towards 
evil would be an essentially atheistic universe, for it would be 
one in which the evil was in the end partially triumphant over the 


ledge. If one might presume to construct a kind of 
paraphrase of Confucius's occasional utterances on 
spiritual subjects, and put it in the form of a con- 
tinuous discourse, it might perhaps run somewhat as 
follows : 

" You need not ask me about the gods and spirits or 
the world beyond the grave, because I really cannot 
tell you anything about them. You ask me what 
death is. I do not know. 1 think it will be time 
enough to consider the problems of death when we 
have solved those presented by life : and it will be a 
long time before we have done that.^ You ask me 
about serving the dead. First make sure that you are 
doing everything possible in the service of living men, 
then you may consider, if you will, whether any 
changes should be made in our ancestral modes of 
serving the spirits of the dead. You ask if the de- 
parted have any knowledge of the sacrifices we offer 
them, or if they are totally unconscious of what we 
are doing for them. How can 1 answer you ? If I 
were to tell you that the dead are conscious, you 
might waste your substance in funerals and sacrifices, 
and thus neglect the living to pay court to the dead. 
If on the other hand I were to tell you that the dead 
are unconscious, filial piety might diminish and sons 
begin to leave the bodies of their parents uncared for 
and unburied. Seek not to know whether the de- 
parted are indeed conscious. If they are, you will 
know it some day ; meanwhile study the world you 
live in and have no fear that you will exhaust its 
treasures of knowledge : the world takes a lot of 
knowing. What is the use of my giving you my per- 
sonal opinion about death and spiritual beings? You, 
or others less intelligent than you, might take my 
opinions as definite statements of truth, and if they 
happen to be erroneous opinions I might very properly 
be charged with the propagation of error. It is the 
custom of our race to offer sacrifices to the spirits of 

' " I don't know about the unseen world," said Thackeray in one of his 
letters, " the use of the seen world is the right thing I'm sure. It is as 
much God's world and creation as the kingdom of heaven with all its 


the dead and I consider this a good old custom and 
one that ought to be kept up, because even if there are 
no spirits to receive our homage the practice is in 
itself a harmless one and helps to foster reverence for 
one's elders and for those in authority. Therefore 
I say to you, carry out the solemn sacrifices to which 
you have been accustomed, and when you do so, 
honour the spirits as if they were present,^ but do 
not be so foolish as to attempt familiar intercourse 
with them. It was not we who made the chasm 
that lies between ourselves and the spiritual world, 
nor have we any right (so far as we know) to try to 
bridge that chasm. God — if there be a God — knows 
why the chasm is there, and God can bridge it if 
He will. 

" My advice to you is this. Be zealous in the ser- 
vices you lOwe to your fellow-men ; behave towards 
them as you would wish them to behave towards your- 
self. Be not too proud to admit when you are wrong 
or that you ' do not know.' The man who sees what 
is right and honest and dares not do it is a craven. 
Do not repine if you are misunderstood by men ; 
repine rather that there are men who are misunder- 
stood by you. Choose as your familiar companions 
only those who are at least equal to yourself in virtue. 
Speak and act with sincerity and truth. Be true to 
yourself and charitable towards your neighbour. 
Carry out those rites of filial piety and of religious 
worship that have been handed down to you by your 
fathers, even if you have doubts about the nature or 
even the very existence of the objects of your worship ; 
there is nothing to be ashamed of in honest doubt, but 
do not let doubts interfere with your duty. Let not 
your knowledge and practice of the traditional rituals 
mislead you into thinking that you are on intimate 
terms with the spiritual world ; treat the unseen 
Powers with all reverence but keep aloof from them. 
Do not fear that God will hold you guilty of neglect 
of heavenly things provided you neglect nothing of 
the duties you owe to men." 

' In some respects, it may be noted, Confucius's position is not very 
far removed from that of some of the so-called Modernists of our own 
time. Cf. Le Roy, Dogme et Critique (4th ed.), p. 26 ; and the late 
Father Tyrrell's Lex Orandi. 


It is true that several remarks of Confucius are on 
record which seem to indicate that he had a belief — 
however indefinite — in the existence of a God or at least 
of spiritual beings who were both greater and better 
than men. For instance he is said to have remarked 
that men had failed to understand him, adding 
proudly, "But there is Heaven: that knows me!" 
There is also the famous reply which he gave to 
Tzii-lu on the subject of prayer : " My praying," said 
Confucius, " has been for a long time." * Some English 
translators incline to the opinion that according to 
this remark Confucius really did offer up prayers to 
an unseen Power. What one knows of Confucius's 
life and teachings as well as the context of this particu- 
lar passage makes this highly improbable ; and indeed 
the remark loses most of its beauty and dignity if 
Confucius referred merely to prayers in the ordinary 
sense. As one of his English editors says, " his whole 
life had been one long prayer"^ — in a sense that the 
narrow religious pedant perhaps does not and cannot 
understand. One is reminded of the landscape-painter 
who scandalised the pious natives of a beautiful Welsh 
village by painting on Sundays. " How is it," asked 
the local parson reproachfully, " that we have not yet 
seen you in God's house?" "I am not aware," was 
the artist's quiet reply, " that I was ever out of it." 
Those of us who can respect this answer will be able 
to respect that given by Confucius when he said, " My 
praying has been for a long time." 

' Lun Vu, vii. 34. 

^ Mr. L, Giles, T/ic Sayings of Confucius^ p. 87. 



Persons whose religion is bounded by dogmas and 
rituals, and who take such a dismal view of human 
nature that they cannot conceive of the existence of 
moral goodness apart from faith in a particular creed, 
are always (consciously or unconsciously) on the 
look-out for evidences of " sin " or imperfection or 
human frailty in the doctrines of those who are 
ethical rather than religious teachers, and who do 
not profess to have been favoured with a '* divine 
revelation." Some of the failings ascribed to Con- 
fucius — such as his alleged insincerity — have been 
already dealt with ; but if his Christian critics are 
unable to substantiate their charges of moral depravity 
they are on much firmer ground when they declare 
that Confucianism is not a religion at all, but merely 
(though why "merely"?) a system of morals. This 
is a point which every one will decide for himself in 
accordance with his own views of what constitutes 
Religion. Cardinal Newman said that by Religion 
he meant " the knowledge of God, of His Will, of our 
duties towards Him." According to this definition 
Confucianism can hardly be called a Religion. 
Carlyle said that whoever believes in the infinite 
nature of Duty has religion. If this be so, it may 
after all be argued that a religion is possessed by 
the true Confucian. Legge, who admired Confucius 



as " a very great man," but was prompt to seek out 
evidence that the Confucian system was altogether 
inferior to Christianity, admitted that Confucianism 
was not "merely" a system of morality, but also 
contained religion/ Sir Charles Eliot, on the con- 
trary, says " it has produced twenty centuries of 
gentlemen. Still, it is not in any ordinary sense a 
religion."^ Similarly Sir Thomas Wade declared 
that the Chinese " have indeed a cult, or rather a 
mixture of cults, but no creed." Hegel said that 
Religion is the Infinite Spirit of God becoming self- 
conscious through the medium of the finite spirit. 
The late Father Tyrrell held that what distinguishes 
religion from ethics is " the belief in another world 
and the endeavour to hold intercourse with it." Kant 
said that when moral duties are regarded as divine 
commands, that is religion. Fichte said that religion 
was Knowledge rather than morality. Matthew 
Arnold defined religion as " morality touched with 
emotion." Schleiermacher said that religion consisted 
in the consciousness of absolute dependence on a 
Power which influences us though we cannot influence 
it in turn. 

It is obvious that until we are all agreed on what 
we mean by Religion it is useless to enquire whether 
the Confucian system is or is not entitled to the 
name. One might as well try to determine whether 
a given literary composition is a poem before we 
have agreed upon a definition of Poetry. Some 
writers have been apt to look for some quality that 
is common to all religion as the best basis for a 
definition ; but, as Edward Caird has reminded us, 
" such a quality, if it could be found, would be some- 
thing so vague and abstract that little or nothing 
could be made of it." ^ As nobody has yet invented 

' "The Religion of China," in Religious Systems of the World (^^h 
ed.), pp. 61 seq. 
* Quarterly Review, October 1907, p. 374, 
' The Evolution of Religion (3rd ed,), vol. i. p. 40. 


a definition which will satisfy every one, we must 
perforce leave Confucianism unlabelled : though if 
we all agree that a religious attitude implies a deep 
sense of moral responsibility (either to our own 
higher selves or to an external Power) and a feeling 
that to do what we believe to be right — irrespective 
of how we come to have ideas of right and wrong 
at all — is " wisdom in the scorn of consequence," 
then we cannot go far astray in asserting that Con- 
fucianism is not an irreligious or unreligious system, 
but is merely an untheological one. 

If the word Religion may be said to have almost 
as many meanings as there are cultivated human 
minds, what is to be said of the word God? The 
Christian objection to Chinese ancestor-worship, of 
which Confucius approved, is that it is a form of 
idolatry, inasmuch as the deceased ancestors are 
worshipped as gods. Here again our concurrence 
or dissent must depend upon the exact shade of 
meaning to be attached to the word " god." A rough 
unhewn stone may be a " god " at one place and 
time — though probably, as in the case of the meteoric 
stone that is said to have been carried in the Ark 
of Jahveh, it is never regarded by " initiates " as 
more than a sacred emblem or representation. At 
another place and time God becomes an ineffable 
Spirit invisible to the human eye and only partially 
attainable by human thought. *' Of Thee," said 
Hooker, " our fittest eloquence is silence, while we 
confess without confessing that Thy Glory is un- 
searchable and beyond our reach." Nor need it be 
supposed that the sublimer conception of Deity is 
the newly-won possession of Christians only. Perhaps 
no loftier idea of the Godhead has ever existed in 
man's mind than that of the composers of some of 
the Indian Vedas and Upanishads which were pro- 
duced many hundreds if not thousands of years B.C. ; 
indeed Hooker's prayer and many other Christian 
prayers grander and nobler would not seem at all 








out of place if they were put into the mouth of an 
Indian forest-sage or a prehistoric Brahman. 

It is very difficult, then, to know without precise 
definition what is the exact meaning of those who 
declare that the Chinese make gods of their dead 
fathers. Du Bose has condemned the Chinese an- 
cestral cult because it inculcates the worship of 
" parents once human but now divine," and he quotes 
with apparent approval the words of another writer 
who describes it as "one of the subtlest phases of 
idolatry — essentially evil with the guise of goodness — 
ever established among men." ' Wells Williams says 
that Chinese ancestor-worship is distinctly idolatrous ; 
yet he admits that the rites consist " merely of pour- 
ing out libations and burning paper and candles at 
the grave, and then a family meeting at a social feast, 
with a few simple prostrations and petitions . . . 
all is pleasant, decorous, and harmonious . . . and 
the family meeting on this occasion is looked forward 
to by all with much the same feeling that Christmas 
is in Old England or Thanksgiving in New England."^ 
So says the earnest American missionary; and those 
of us who not only see nothing wrong in the Chinese 
ancestral ceremonies but would be exceedingly sorry 
to see them abolished, will perhaps feel inclined to 
smile at the reproachful terms in which he refers to 
Sir John Davis, who had expressed the heterodox 
opinion that the rites were "harmless, if not meri- 
torious, forms of respect for the dead." 

Another American writer, well known as an 
authority on China, is equally strongly opposed to 
any compromise with the cult of ancestors. 

" It makes dead men into gods, and its only gods 
are dead men. Its love, its gratitude, and its fears 
are for earthly parents only. It has no conception 
of a Heavenly Father, and feels no interest in such 

' The Dragon, Image and Demon, pp. TJ and 88. 
* The Middle Kingdotn (1883 ed.), vol. ii. p. 253-4. 


a being when He is made known. Either Christianity 
will never be introduced into China or ancestral 
worship will be given up, for they are contradictories. 
In the death struggle between them the fittest only 
will survive." ^ 

To show that this is not quite the view taken by 
all American missionaries, let us quote the words of l 
yet a third. Dr. W. A. P. Martin, whose Lore of 
Cathay is one of the most interesting books of its 
kind on China yet produced, has a valuable chapter 
on ancestor-worship in which he takes a much more 
liberal view than that of his colleagues, though as a 
champion of Christianity he feels himself obliged to 
find fault with " the transformation of the deceased 
into tutelar divinities " and with " the invocation of 
departed spirits." He admits that the ceremonies 
connected w4th the cult are of an exceedingly impres- 
sive nature. 

" The spectacle of a great nation," he says, " with 
its whole population gathered round the altars of 
their ancestors, tracing their lineage up to the hun- 
dredth generation, and recognising the ties of kindred 
to the hundredth degree, is one that partakes of the 

Most of my readers are doubtless aware that it has 
been, and perhaps still is, the custom of many 
missionaries to require their converts to surrender 
their ancestral tablets, or to destroy them, as a proof 
of their sincerity before baptism. There are many 
sad stories connected with this cruel proceeding,^ and 
it is refreshing to listen to the frank confession of 
so experienced and fair-minded a missionary as Dr. 
Martin, who admits that he himself once insisted on 

' Chinese Characteristics (5th ed.), p. 185. 

^ The Lore of Cathay, p. 275. 

^ None perhaps more pitiful than that which is related in the Revue 
des Deux Mondes of September 15, 1900. I forbear to quote this story, 
as it would not be fair to do so without hearing " the other side." 


a convert giving up his ancestral tablets, and has 
ever since regarded this as one of the mistakes of 
his life, and looks back upon it with " poignant grief." 
As he adds decisively, " I had no right to impose such 
a test," it is to be hoped that his words have served as 
a warning to some, at least, of his successors in the 
missionary field. 

If Christianity is to win its way to the hearts of 
the Chinese people it will probably have to condescend 
to a compromise on the question of ancestor-worship. 
A recent writer in 77?^ Spectator evidently thinks it 
is the Chinese who will make all the compromise. 
" There is no reason," he says, " why the Chinese, 
in accordance with their proved mental habit, should 
not adopt a kind of metaphysical reading of ancestor- 
worship such as would enjoy the hearty sanction of 
the Church which preaches the * Communion of 
Saints.' " ^ 

It is indeed likely enough that as time goes on 
certain superannuated features of ancestor-worship, 
as of other Chinese religious practices, will gradually 
disappear, but it is probable that this will be due 
rather to rationalistic pressure than to Christianity. 
The Chinese are beginning to imbibe Western culture 
— especially Western science and philosophy — ^with 
avidity, and the more they do so the more ready will 
they be to abandon some of their traditional ideas 
with regard to demonology, feng-shtii, the burning 
of paper furniture and money, the worship of the 
"gods" of Taoism, and many other superstitious 
beliefs and practices ; indeed this lopping off of the 
rotten branches of the religious life of China began 
several years ago, and is not likely to cease until 
there are no more rotten branches left on the tree. 
But it is a very noteworthy fact that the abandonment 
of many popular superstitions does not necessarily 
imply the establishment of Christian dogmas in their 

' The Spectator, August 22, 1908, p 267. 


A year ago, while travelling in the province of 
Anhui, I visited a town which had so far abandoned 
its " heathen " rites that a long row of images had 
been dragged from their roadside shrines and tossed 
into the river. Yet I was told by resident European 
missionaries that their converts had had nothing 
whatever, directly or indirectly, to do with this 
proceeding ; it had been carried out solely by the 
young local literati, who had shown themselves as 
absolutely impervious to the Christian propaganda 
as they were contemptuous of the puerile superstitions 
of the masses. But it will be a long time yet before 
the essential rites and observances connected with 
the cult of ancestors begin to suffer from the inroads 
either of Rationalism or of Christianity. Buddhism 
and Taoism are China's privileged guests, who — unless 
they speedily adapt themselves to new conditions — 
may shortly find they have outstayed their welcome ; 
but the cult of ancestors is enthroned in the hearts of 
the people, and if Christianity is ever to dislodge it, 
or even find a place by its side, the intruder will be 
obliged to adopt a less arrogant and less uncom- 
promising attitude than it has assumed hitherto. 
Dr. A. H. Smith, Dr. Edkins,^ and other missionaries 
declare that China must choose between Christianity 
and ancestor-worship. She made up her mind on the 
subject in the middle of the eighteenth century, as a 
result of the controversy between the Jesuits and the 
Vatican,* and there is no indication that she regrets 
her choice. 

It will be remembered that in the controversy 
alluded to, the Jesuit missionaries, who had hitherto 
been amazingly successful in their propaganda, strongly 
advocated the toleration of ancestor-worship on the 

' Religion in China {i?)()2, ed.), p. 153. 

* For brief accounts of this celebrated episode, see Prof. Parker's 
China and Religio7i, pp. 197-203 ; Williams's Middle Kingdom (1883 
ed.), vol. ii. pp. 2995^^., and Max Miiller's Last Essays (Second Series), 
pp. 314-18. 


ground that the rites were merely civil and com- 
memorative, and were not idolatrous. This view, 
after lengthy disputes, was finally condemned as 
erroneous, and the cult of ancestors on the part of 
Christians was prohibited by the Roman pontiff 
(Benedict XIV.) " without qualification or concession 
of any kind." ^ The result of this was the collapse 
of the young and vigorous Roman Church in China. 
The Chinese Emperor, who had found himself contra- 
dicted on Chinese soil by papal edicts, was naturally 
disinclined to treat the foreign religion and its pro- 
fessors with the tolerance and respect that had 
hitherto been extended to it.^ It is interesting to 
note the Protestant attitude towards the papal de- 
cision on this matter. " It is not easy to perceive, 
perhaps," writes Dr. Wells Williams, " why the Pope 
and the Dominicans were so much opposed to the 
worship of ancestral penates among the Chinese when 
they performed much the same services themselves 
before the images of Mary, Joseph, Cecilia, Ignatius, 
and hundreds of other deified mortals."^ 

Evidently the good Doctor could not withstand the 
temptation to administer a sharp Protestant pin-prick 
to' his Romanist rivals, though "it is not easy to 
perceive" why he should find fault with the Papists 
in this respect when missionaries of his own branch 
of Christianity were (as some still are) equally ready 
to attempt the cheerless task of reconciling contra- 
dictories. They condemn the Chinese for their demon- 
ology and superstitious follies, yet many of them are 
merely substituting Western superstition for Eastern. 
They expel demons from the bodies of sick men, they 

' Parker, op. cit. p. 202. 

* "Considering," writes Sir Charles Eliot, " what would have been 
the probable fate of Chinamen in Rome who publicly contradicted the 
Pope on matters of doctrine, it is hardly surprising if K'ang Hsi dealt 
severely with the rebellious foreign religion." {Quarterly Review 
October 1907, p. 375.) 

^ The Middle Kingdom (1883 ed.), vol. ii. p. 253. 


report in their journals the occurrence of miracles 
wrought by the Deity on behalf of their propaganda, 
they pray for the supersession of the laws of meteor- 
ology, they report cases of real devils actually speaking- 
through " idols," they believe in the existence of real 
witches, and they still teach the "heathen" fabulous 
'stories of the creation of the world and the origin 
of man.^ 

That missionaries of this class are less numerous 
than formerly is fortunately true, but their teachings 
presumably remain the treasured possession of their 
converts, and if those converts or their descendants 
ever break out in acts of fanatical bigotry and intoler- 
ance, or take to enforcing their beliefs on others, the 
responsibility will rest with the Mission Boards for 
sending out Christian teachers whose religious beliefs 
were of a type that flourished widely in our own land 
in the age of witch-burning and about the time of 
Mr. Praise-God Barebones, but which, thanks chiefly 
to Biblical criticism and the study of comparative 
mythology and the advance of scientific knowledge, 
has happily become all but extinct among our educated 

But to return to the specific charge brought against 
Romanists by Dr. Wells Williams — that the Pope 
and the Dominicans condemned ancestor-worship as 
idolatrous although they conducted much the same 
services themselves before the images of the Mater Dei 
and other deified mortals — this charge is one that has 
never yet been rebutted in a manner satisfactory to 
those who are not Romanists. 

If a Chinese goes to his fu ti (village " god ") or to 
Kuan Yin or to the Queen of Heaven {Sheng Mti T'ien 
Hou) or to Lung Wang the ruler of clouds and water, 
with prayers for rain, or for the cure of disease, or for 

' Evidence of these things may be found passim in such journals 
as China's Millions. Some typical cases are mentioned by Arthur 
Davenport in his interesting work China from Within. He also 
quotes in full the case referred to on p. 332 (footnote 3). 


safety from shipwreck ; or if he beseeches the spirits 
of his dead ancestors to protect the family and grant 
its members health and prosperity, his proceedings 
are immediately condemned as idolatrous. But if a 
Christian goes and prays to St. Hubert for an antidote 
to a mad dog's bite or to St. ApoUonia for a toothache- 
cure, or to St. Theodorus at Rome for the life of a 
sick child, or to the Blessed John Berchmans for the 
eradication of cancer in the breast, or to Our Lady of 
Lourdes for the cure of a diseased bone, this is not 
idolatry but good Christianity ! As a matter of fact 
the ancestral spirits of the Chinese and the great 
majority of the Taoist deities are neither more nor 
less " gods " than the saints of Christendom. They — 
like the saints — are regarded as the spirits of certain 
dead men who in their new life beyond the grave are 
supposed to have acquired more or less limited powers 
over some of the forces of nature and over certain of 
the threads of human destiny. One is just as much 
a "god "as the other. The Christian refuses to call 
his saints gods because that would be confessing to 
polytheism, and as he professes to be a monotheist 
that would never do ; but he insists on accusing the 
Chinese of turning dead men into gods because he 
wants to prove that the Chinese are idolatrous and 

If he says that he goes by the verdict of the 
Chinese themselves, who apply to their dead men 
the title shen and (in some cases) the higher title 
/?, it is fair to remind him that if he insists upon 
translating the former of these terms by the word 
" god " he should at the same time supply a clear 
definition of the precise meaning which that word 
is intended to convey ; when he has done that it will 
be time enough for us to consider whether the word 
*' god " gives a fair idea of the meaning of the Chinese 
when they declare that their deceased ancestors have 
become shen. As to the supposed functions of the 
Chinese "deities" and the Christian "saints," it would 



puzzle a keen dialectician to say how the miracle- 
working of the one essentially differs from that of the 
other, or how it is that St. Thomas of Canterbury, 
in spite of his wonder-working bones, is a mere saint, 
while Kuan Ti— who was once a stout soldier, but 
having been canonised by imperial decree is now 
famous throughout the Chinese Empire as the spiritual 
Patron of War — is to be hooted at as a false " god." ^ 

It would seem that what the Christian says, in 
effect, is this : If the Pope — the earthly head of our 
religion — canonises a dead man, that dead man be- 
comes a saint, and you may pray to him as much as 
you like ; if the earthly head of your religion — the 
Emperor of China — canonises a man, he becomes a 
false god, possibly a demon, and if you commit the 
sin of praying to him you do so on the peril of your 
soul. It is an exemplification of the old saying, " Or- 
thodoxy is my doxy, heterodoxy is your doxy." In 
other words — you are right if you agree with me : if 

' The processes of beatification and canonisation in Rome and China 
are in many respects similar. Some years ago the Archbishop of 
Rouen and other prelates addressed a letter to tlie Pope with regard 
to Joan of Arc, begging the Holy See to declare that " this admirable 
girl practised heroically the Christian virtues . . . and that she is 
consequently worthy of being inscribed among the Blessed and of 
being publicly invoked by all Christian people." After the lapse 
of some years Pope Pius IX. duly " proclaimed the heroic quality of 
Joan of Arc's virtues, and the authenticity of the miracles associated 
with her name " ; and since then, as is well known, the French heroine 
has gone through the process of beatification. (See Ti7?tes of April 13, 
1909.) In China a man or woman who was distinguished during life 
for some heroic action or for pre-eminent virtue may — in suitable 
circumstances — be recommended by the local officials for canonisation, 
and if the Emperor wills it to be so he issues a decree whereby that 
person becomes a saint or a god (whichever term we prefer) and is 
officially entitled to be the recipient of public worship. The memorial 
in which the magistrates set forth the virtues of the dead man — and 
the miracles performed at his tomb if there happen to have been any — 
might be translated almost word for word from similar memorials sent 
to Rome by orthodox Christian prelates ; and the Chinese Emperor 
gives his decision in the matter in very much the same terms as are 
adopted by the Pope. Cf. Farnell's Evolittio?i of Religion, p. 77. 


you don't you are wrong! That was indeed a true 
saying of Thackeray's, " We view the world through 
our own eyes, each of us, and make from within us 
the things we see." 

Of course there are many degrees of " godhead " — 
if we are to employ that term — within the ranks of the 
Chinese " pantheon." The man who, on account of 
his distinguished career in this world, or the supposed 
miracles wrought by him since his removal to the 
next, has been canonised or " deified " by imperial 
decree, holds a much more important and imposing 
position than the ordinary father of a family who, 
as it were, automatically becomes shen — a spirit or 
ancestral divinity — through the simple and inevitable 
process of dying. But the difference is rather in 
degree than in kind. The Emperor, as Father of his 
people and as their High Priest or Pope, can raise any 
one he chooses to the position of a Ti^ and can subse- 
quently elevate or degrade him in the ranks of the 
national divinities in accordance with his imperial 
will. As a matter of fact the process is intimately 
connected with statecraft and considerations of practical 
expediency. " In the Chinese Government," as Sir 
Alfred Lyall says, " the temporal and spiritual powers, 
instead of leaning towards different centres, meet and 
support each other like an arch, of which the Emperor's 
civil and sacred prerogative is the keystone."^ 

What the Emperor can do on a large scale every 
head of a Chinese family does regularly on a small 
one. In a sense no ceremony is necessary : a man 
becomes an ancestral spirit as soon as he dies, irre- 
spective of anything that his son may do for him. But 
his position as a shen is hardly a regular one — he is a 
mere " homeless ghost "—until the son has carried out 
the traditional rites. The sJien chu^ — the "spirit- 
tablet " — becomes the dead man's representative ; no 

> Asiatic Studies (Second Series), 1906 ed., p. 155. 
* See pp. 277 seq. 


longer visible and audible, he is believed to be still 
carrying on his existence on a non-material plane, and 
to be still capable, in some mysterious way which the 
Chinese themselves do not pretend to understand, 
of protecting and watching over the living members 
of the family and of bringing prosperity and happiness 
to future generations. The filial affection of son for 
father is deepened on the father's death into permanent 
religious reverence, and this reverential feeling finds 
its natural expression in a system of rites and cere- 
monies which, for the want of a better term, we call 
ancestor-worship. The " idolatry " consists in bowing 
with clasped hands towards the tombs or spirit-tablets, 
placing before them little cups and dishes containing 
wine and food, and burning incense in front of the 
family portraits in the ancestral temple at the season 
of New Year, or (if there are no portraits) before 
a scroll containing the family pedigree. If the dis- 
embodied members of a family were " gods " in the 
sense usually attributed to the word their spiritual 
powers would not be confined — as they normally 
are — to the affairs of their own descendants. The 
orthodox Chinese knows that it is not only useless 
but wrong to " worship " ^ the spirits of any family 
but his own. " For a man to sacrifice to a spirit 
which does not belong to him," said Confucius, " is 
flattery." - 

For the sake of brevity and convenience we may 
and sometimes do speak of the private ancestral 
spirits and of the great national divinities as "gods," 
but we should preserve the necessary distinctions of 
meaning in our own minds. That it is only a rough- 
and-ready mode of speech may easily be perceived 
when we attempt to make a single Chinese term apply 
to both these classes of spiritual beings. It is true 

' This word " worship " is not a strictly correct translation of the 
Chinese /fl/. " To visit or salute ceremoniously " would, as a rule, be 
a fairer rendering. 

" Lun YU, ii. 24 (Legge's translation). 


enough that both (in most cases) sprang from the 
same human origin, so that their powers and functions 
differ, as already pointed out, in degree rather than in 
kind ; but if — whether from ignorance or from a desire 
to be exceptionally polite — we were to describe a 
man's deceased forefathers as Ti (the nearest equivalent 
to "God" that the Chinese language possesses) we 
should probably be the innocent cause of an outburst 
of genial mirth. The average Chinese takes a very 
much humbler view of the degree of deification that 
has fallen to his dead father's lot than would be 
implied by the use of so distinguished a title. 

It is a rather common opinion that " the worship of 
ancestors probably had its origin in the fear of the 
evil which might be done by ghosts." ^ Lafcadio 
Hearn, a devoted disciple of Herbert Spencer, took a 
similar view of Japanese religion, and held that Shinto 
was at one time a religion of " perpetual fear." 
Nobushige Hozumi, Dr. W. G. Aston and others have 
disposed of this opinion with reference to Japan. The 
former writer, who was called to the English Bar and 
subsequently became a Professor of Law at Tokyo, 
and was still proud to own himself an ancestor- 
worshipper, declared that " it was the love of ancestors, 
not the dread of them, which gave rise to the custom 
of worshipping and making offerings of food and 
drink to their spirits. . . . Respect for their parents 
may, in some cases, have become akin to awe, yet 
it was love, not dread, which caused this feeling of 
awe. . . . We celebrate the anniversary of our ances- 
tors, pay visits to their graves, offer flowers, food 
and drink, burn incense, and bow before their tombs 
entirely from a feeling of love and respect for their 
memory, and no question of ' dread ' enters our 
minds in doing so."^ 

' Sir Charles Eliot, in T/ie Quarterly Review, October 1907, p. 362. 

^ Ancestor-worship and Japa?iese Law by Nobushige Hozumi 
(Tokyo, igoi), pp. d,seq. For a similar view see Tylor's Primitive 
Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 113. 


So far as I have had opportunities of judging of 
Chinese ancestor-worship, I am strongly of opinion 
that, subject to what has been said in an earHer 
chapter,^ the words of this writer are as appHcable to 
China as they are to Japan.- There seems, indeed, to 
be very little reason why any one should propound 
or hold the theory that a loving father was liable to 
turn into a malevolent ghost. What the Chinese 
believeis that theirdeceased ancestors arewell-disposed 
towards them, and will give them reasonable help and 
protection throughout the course of their lives : though 
if the ancestral graves are left uncared-for or the 
periodical sacrifices neglected or the spirit-tablets not 
treated with respect, or if living members of the family 
have wasted the family property or have been guilty 
of discreditable conduct, then no doubt the spirits will 
be angry and will punish them for the crime of lack 
of filial piety {pit hsiao), the worst crime of which a 
Chinese can be guilty. 

The Chinese are quite satisfied that so long as they 
behave in a filial manner (the word " filial " being 
taken in its widest possible signification) they have 
nothing whatever to fear from their ghostly ancestors. 
To be truly filial a Chinese must not merely behave 
with dutiful obedience towards his parents when they 
are alive and with dutiful reverence towards their 
manes when they are dead, but he must also act in 
such a way as to reflect no speck of discredit upon 

• See pp. 1 19, 263, 

' In case the reader should be misled into the belief that this opinion 
is shared by all foreigners in China, I quote some words recently pub- 
lished by the Rev. J. Macgowan in his work Sidelights on Chinese Life 
(pp. 75-6). The root of ancestor-worship, he says, " lies neither in 
reverence nor in affection for the dead, but in selfishness and dread. 
The kindly ties and the tender affection that used to bind men together 
when they were in the world and to knit their hearts in a loving union 
seem to vanish, and the living are only oppressed with a sense of the 
mystery of the dead, and a fear lest they should do anything that might 
incur their displeasure and so bring misery upon the home." This 
view is not, I think, a fair one. 


them by his own misdeeds. If his parents are them- 
selves guilty of wrongdoing he is entitled to remon- 
strate with them, because after all his parents as well 
as himself owe filial reverence to their common 
ancestors. If the wrongdoing is all his own he is 
twice guilty, for he has committed an action which is 
in itself intrinsically wrong, and by degrading his own 
moral nature he has brought disgrace on his parents. 
According to this theory, the Chinese who commits a 
dishonourable action is unfilial ; if he breaks the law 
he is unfilial ; if he does not discharge all his dead 
father's obligations he is unfilial ; if he ruins his own 
health through immorality or excesses of any kind he 
is unfilial ; if he fails to bring up legitimate offspring 
(to continue the family and carry on the ancestral 
rites) he is unfilial.^ 

Needless to say there is no such person as a 
perfectly filial son in all China— or anywhere else in 
the world for that matter: but that fact no more 
justifies us in attempting to disparage the noble and 
lofty Chinese ideal of filial piety than the failure of 
Christian men and Christian Governments to act in 
accordance with the doctrines of the Sermon on the 
Mount justifies us in disparaging the highest ethical 
ideal of Christianity. If the ideal — in either the 
Christian or the Chinese system — were actually attain- 
able, it would become necessary to form a new ideal 
to take the place of that which had ceased as such to 
exist or had been seen to "fade into the light of 
common day." Some Western observers are apt to 
think that the Chinese doctrine of filial piety is too 
one-sided to be practical : that it makes the son the 
slave of his parents and gives the parents at the 
same time the position of irresponsible tyrants. No 
greater mistake could possibly be made. The re- 
sponsibilities of the parent are correlative to the 
duties of the child. 

* According to Mencius the most unfilial of sons is he who does not 
become the father of children. 


The locus classicus for this is a famous story told of 
Confucius himself. When he was Minister of Crime 
in his native state a father brought an accusation against 
his own son. Confucius sent them both to gaol, and 
when he was questioned as to why he punished the 
father as well as the son and did not rather condemn 
the son for the gross crime of disobeying his father, 
he replied thus : " Am I to punish for unfilial conduct 
one who has not been taught filial duties ? Is not he 
who fails to teach his son his duties equally guilty 
with the son who fails to fulfil them ? " ^ 

This is a point of view which the Chinese — or at 
least those who have not succumbed to the seductive 
whispers of Western individualism — thoroughly under- 
stand and appreciate to this day. Cases have been 
heard in the British courts at Weihaiwei which prove 
this to be so. On the rare occasions when a father 
has been compelled to bring an action against his son, 
or on the more numerous occasions when a father is 
summoned to the court in connection with a criminal 
case in which his own son is the accused, he frequently 
begins by making a humble acknowledgment that 
his own failure to perform his duties as father must 
at least partially account for his son's depravity ; or if 
in accordance with the Chinese practice the British 
magistrate sternly lectures a father on the enormity of 
his offence in bringing up his son so badly that the 
son has fallen into the clutches of the law, the un- 
happy man admits the justice of the charge promptly 
and without reserve. Yu ts^o: ling tsui^ — " I am guilty: 
I accept punishment." 

But the Chinese doctrine of filial piety does not 
concern itself only with the relations between parent 
and child. We have seen that the whole of Chinese 
society is regarded as a vast family of which the 

' For a criticism of the theory, of. Montesquieu, L Esprit dcs Lois, 
vi. 20. But see also some very appreciative remarks by the same 
writer on the Chinese theory of Filial Piety, as applied to both domestic 
and political relationships, in Book xix. 17-19. 


Emperor is Father ; similarly the territorial officials 
are in loco parentis to the heads of the families living 
within their respective jurisdictions : they are the 
fu-mu kuan — the Father-and-Mother officials.^ The 
doctrine of Hsiao — Filial Piety — applies not only to 
domestic relationships but also to the relations between 
Emperor and Minister and between rulers and ruled. 
The head of a family who disobeys an official pro- 
clamation is guilty of an offence towards the local 
fu-mu knan which is almost identical in kind with the 
offence of a son who wilfully disobeys his father. 
Here again the responsibilities are not all on one 
side : the fu-mu kuan is by the higher authorities held 
theoretically responsible for the peace and good order 
and contentment of the district over which he presides, 
just as Confucius is said to have held the father 
responsible for the misbehaviour of his son. 

Sometimes, indeed, this doctrine is carried too far, 
as when an official is degraded for not preventing an 
outbreak of crime which he could not possibly have 
foreseen. Western peoples have taken advantage of 
this theory when they have called upon the Govern- 
ment to punish an official within whose jurisdiction 
the slaughter of a missionary has occurred, even when 
the official's complicity is quite unproved. The people 
themselves know well that their officials are theoreti- 
cally responsible for their well-being, and often — 
through their lack of scientific knowledge — blame their 
fu-mu kuan for troubles which the very best and most 
diligent of officials could not have averted. The local 
officials — nay, viceroys of provinces and even the 
Emperor himself^are regarded by their subordinates 
or subjects, or profess to regard themselves, as per- 
sonally responsible for such occurrences as disastrous 
earthquakes, epidemics and inundations.^ In 1909 

' See above, pp. 9, 15. 

* Cf. the beautiful prayer-poem of the Chinese king Hsiian Wang, 
attributed to the ninth century B.C. (For text and translation see 
Legge's Chinese Classics, vol, iv. pt. ii, pp. 528 seq.) 


the appointment of a new governor to the province 
of Shantung happened to be followed by a serious 
drought ; he became highly unpopular at once and 
received the disagreeable nickname of the Drought- 
Governor. As recently as 1908 I passed through a 
district in the province of Shansi in which no rain had 
fallen for several months. On entering the magisterial 
town of the district I noticed that the streets were 
thronged with crowds of people from the country, all 
wearing willow-wreaths as a sign that the crops were 
threatened with destruction and that public prayers 
were being offered for rain.^ The whole town was in 
confusion, and the sudden appearance of a foreigner 
made matters worse. A noisy and restless crowd 
followed me into my inn and proved so troublesome 
(though by no means violent) that I was obliged to 
send a message to the local magistrate to request him 
to have the inn-yard cleared. My messenger soon 
came back to report that the magistrate's official 
residence or yamen was also closely invested by a 
clamouring mob and that the wretched man had been 
obliged to barricade his windows and doors to save 
himself from personal violence. He was therefore 
powerless to grant my request. The crowd had no 
complaint whatever against him except that his 
official prayers for rain had failed to have the desired 
result and that his culpable inability to establish 
friendly relations with the divine Powers was the 
evident cause of the drought. 

This of course is carrying the theory of the mutual 
responsibilities of father and son, ruler and ruled, a 
great deal too far : but occurrences of this kind will 
become less and less frequent with the gradual advance 
of scientific and general knowledge ; and it is surely 
far better that the changes should occur automatically 
than by forcible interference with customs and super- 
stitions which in their fall might involve the indis- 

' See p. 187, . 

-'. I 


criminate destruction of good and bad. We may now 
perceive, perhaps, how it was that Confucius, who 
was evidently ahnost an agnostic with regard to gods 
and spiritual beings,^ was strenuously opposed to the 
abandonment of the rites and ceremonies that pre- 
supposed the existence of such beings. He insisted 
upon the importance of keeping up the cult of 
ancestors not so much for the sake of the dead but 
because it fostered among living men feelings of love, 
respect, reverence, and duty towards family and State. 
The souls of the dead might or might not be uncon- 
scious of what was done for them, but it was in the 
interests of social harmony and political stability that 
the traditional religious and commemorative cere- 
monies should be jealously preserved and handed 
down to posterity and that during the performance of 
such ceremonies the presence of the ancestral spirits 
should at least be tacitly assumed. 

There is one alleged objection to ancestor-worship 
which only a few years ago might have been regarded 
as most serious ; and indeed it has been urged again 
and again by missionaries, travellers, ethical writers 
and sociologists. It was supposed that the cult of 

' It need not be supposed that there was anything unique about 
Confucius's agnosticism. There is evidence enough that he did not 
stand alone in his attitude of uncertainty with regard to the spiritual 
world. The writings of Mo TzQ (Micius), who taught an attractive 
philosophy of his own in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., show in- 
ferentially that the question of whether there was or was not a world 
of spirits was a frequent subject of debate among the learned. Micius 
himself took the view that " there are heavenly spirits and there are 
spirits of the hills and streams, and there are spirits of the dead also." 
He hotly combated the view (which must have been widely current) 
that no such spirits existed. The subject remained a stock question 
for debate ; indeed once it had been raised, how could it ever have 
ceased to agitate men's minds ? The philosopher Wang Ch'ung (first 
century a.d.) was a materialist, and besides flouting many prevalent 
superstitions, such as those relating to virgin-births and other prodigies,, 
he entered the lists against those who sought to prove that dead men 
continue to have a conscious existence or can exercise any control 
or influence over their living descendants. 


ancestors kept the race that practised it in the grip 
of a remorseless conservatism ; that the ancestor- 
worshipper always turned his back on progress and 
reform on the plea that what was good enough for his 
grandfather was good enough for him ; that ancestor- 
worship was the secret of Oriental stagnation, and 
that no Eastern race could be expected to advance in 
civilisation and culture until it had learned to work 
for the good of its posterity rather than for the barren 
honour of its ancestry. 

" As a system, ancestral worship," says a European 
writer, " is tenfold more potent for keeping the people 
in darkness than all the idols in the land." " By its 
deadening influences," says another, " the nation has 
been kept for ages looking backward and downward 
instead of forward and upward." ^ A few years ago, 
be it repeated, the theory was one that had some 
weight : not because it was convincing in itself but 
because facts were wanting by which it could be 
refuted. The leap of Japan into the front rank of 
civilised nations has for ever disposed of the argument 
that ancestor-worshippers are necessarily impervious 
to change and reform. The cult of ancestors, be it 
remembered, is nearly if not quite as prominent a 
feature in the religious life of Japan as in that of 
China. Says a foreign observer, " The ancestor- 
worship of the Japanese is no superstition : it is the 
great essential fact of their lives." ^ Says a native 
observer, " the introduction of Western civilisation, 
which has wrought so many social and political 
changes during the last sixty years, has had no 
influence whatever in the direction of modifying the 
custom." ^ 

* Both of these enlightening observations are quoted with evident 
approval by the Rev. H. C. Du Bose in his work The Dragon, Image 
and Demofi (New York : 1887), pp. 87-8. 

* O. K. Davis in the Century Illustrated Magazine, November 1904. 
This is quoted by Prof. H. A. Giles in Adversaria Sifiica, p. 202. 

' Nobushige Hozumi in Aticestor-lVorship and Japa7iese Law, p. 2. 


According to Lafcadio Hearn, ancestor-worship is 
" that which specially directs national life and shapes 
national character. Patriotism belongs to it. Loyalty 
is based on it." Little wonder is it that, knowing 
what the ancestral cult has done for Japan, Prof. 
H. A. Giles in quoting this passage adds a significant 
remark, " It would seem," he writes, '* that so far 
from backing up missionaries who are imploring the 
Chinese to get rid of ancestral worship, the sooner 
we establish it in this country the better for our own 
interests." That ancestor-worship can be introduced 
or reintroduced into an occidental country in the 
twentieth century is of course out of the question : 
but before we continue to devote human lives and 
vast treasure to the self-imposed task of uprooting 
it from its congenial oriental soil, would it not be 
well earnestly to consider whether our work may 
not be regarded by our own distant posterity as the 
most stupendous folly or as the gravest and most 
disastrous of errors ever committed by the nations 
of the West ? By all means let it be admitted that 
ancestor-worship helped to make China content — 
perhaps foolishly content — with her traditional culture, 
and too heedless of the rapid development of the 
occidental Powers in wealth and civilisation and 
scientific equipment : on the other hand it helped to 
make her people industrious, frugal, patient, cheerful, 
law-abiding, filial, good fathers, loyal to the past, 
hopeful and thoughtful for the future. Most em- 
phatically may we say this, that it is not essential 
to China's future progress that ancestor-worship should 
be abolished. Among the people of China their 
ancestors occupy the place of a kind of Second 
Chamber — a phantom House of Lords, strongly 
antagonistic to sudden change and to rash experiments 
whether in social life, religion or politics ; a House of 
Lords which — like Upper Houses elsewhere — may at 
times have opposed real progress and useful reform, 
but which perhaps far oftener has saved the nation 


from the consequences of its own excesses by 
exercising a sacred right of veto of which no Lower 
House has the least desire to deprive it : a veto which 
is none the less effective, none the less binding on 
living men, through being exercised by a silent crowd 
of viewless ghosts. 



It is not only Confucianism, with its grand ethical 
system, its acquiescence in Nature-worship and its 
cult of ancestors, that has built up the curiously 
unsymmetrical edifice of Chinese religion. Taoism 
and Buddism must also be taken into account ; and 
if one can find for them but few words of praise 
it is only fair to remember that the Taoism of to- 
day has very little in common with the lofty if some- 
times rather misty speculations enshrined in that 
remarkable old classic the Tao Te Ching, and that 
Buddhism — as now practised in north-eastern Shan- 
tung and indeed in the greater part of China (ex- 
cluding certain famous monastic centres) — is perhaps 
irrevocably degenerate and corrupt. The Tao Te 
Ching, the sacred book of Taoism, is generally sup- 
posed, probably on insufficient grounds, ^ to have 
been written by a philosopher known as Lao Tzu, 

* Prof. H. A. Giles holds that the Tao Te Ching is a compilation and 
was not written by Lao Tzu himself though it probably enshrines some 
of his sayings. He gives strong reasons for believing that it must have 
been compiled after the appearance of the works of Chuang Tzii 
(fourth century B.C.), Han Fei Tzu (third century B.C.) and Huai Nan 
Tzu (second century B.C.). As for Lao Tzu himself, Dr. Giles rejects 
the slender evidence that makes him a contemporary of Confucius, 
and assigns him to " some unknown period in remote antiquity." (China 
and the Chinese, pp. 145, 148 seq.) 

35 1 


said to have been an elder contemporary of Con- 
fucius, in the sixth century b.c. 

The Taoist philosophy, as set forth in that book, may 
or may not have been indigenous to China; some writers 
insist that it was wholly a product of Chinese specula- 
tion,^ while others trace it to early Indian philosophy- 
and even connect it with Buddhism.^ Though its 
doctrines are metaphysical as well as ethical, Taoism 
is to some extent comparable with Confucianism, in 
which the ethical element is predominant. Indeed 
most writers have admitted that in enunciating the 
noble doctrine " Return good for evil," Lao Tzu rose 
to a height never quite attained by Confucius, though 
the latter also anticipated Christianity by formulating 
a version of the Golden Rule. One of the best out- 
line comparisons ever attempted between the two 
systems of Taoism and Confucianism is that recently 
made by a sympathetic American writer,^ who con- 
cludes with the carefully-weighed and highly important 
utterance that the two codes combined " furnished at 
once the foundation and superstructure of as pure, 
high, and at the same time practical system of ethics 
as the world has ever seen. It need fear comparison 
with none. Even that laid down in the Bible, if 

' Cf. Dr. W. A. P. Martin in his Lore of Cathay, and many other 

^ Cf. Sir Robert Douglas, Confudanis?n and Taoiiism (5th ed.), 
p. 19U Max Mailer rejected the theory that Tao was a Vedic idea 
transferred from India to China : but he mentioned a Sanskrit word 
and concept which in its historical development ran parallel with that 
of Tao. This word was Riia — the Way, the Path, the Kivoiiv dnivrjTOP 
o\ prinmtn mobile. {Last Essays, Second Series, pp. 290 seq.) 

3 Mr. T. W. Kingsmill {The Taotch King) calls it "one of the few 
remains existing of primitive Buddhism." He points out that as there 
is no intimation of any intercourse between China and India before 
the Han period, the compilation of the Tao TeChing must be assigned 
to that age, — several hundred years after the supposed date of Lao 

" Mr. Chester Holcombe in the Intcrnatio7ial Journal of Ethics, 
January igo8, pp. 168 seq. The whole article deserves careful 


carefully separated from the religious element here 
and there intermingled with it, can do no more for 
man than this ancient system of the Far East can do. 
And why should it be otherwise, since the two are 
similar almost to identity, and are, as has been 
claimed, the necessary outgrowth of the same human 

There is no better augury for future good relations 
between the thinkers and scholars (if not the Govern- 
ments and peoples) of East and West than the recent 
growth of a tolerant and generous spirit on the part of 
European students of oriental ethic and religion. 
One still hears constantly of " heathen " and " pagan " 
— words which, however inoffensive in their original 
meaning, have come to be regarded as somewhat 
opprobrious epithets ; but that there is a very decided 
change for the better coming over missionary enter- 
prise in China can be proved very simply by a com- 
parison between the sympathetic appreciation shown 
in the passage from which the above statement is 
quoted (written, be it noted, by one who is keenly 
interested in missionary work in China) and the 
almost inconceivable bigotry and narrow-mindedness 
shown by many missionary writers only a few years 
ago. Even Dr. Legge, the laborious and conscientious 
translator of the Chinese classics, allowed his Christian 
prepossessions, as we have already seen, to obscure 
his judgment and stultify his conclusions. "Their 
sages, falsely so called" is how he refers to some 
of the greatest ethical teachers the world has seen.^ 
"In January, 1882," writes a doctor of divinity, "a 
distinguished missionary in China attacked Max 
Muller as a foe to missions and as a heathen because 
he had instituted the series of translations of the 
Sacred Books of the East. The translation itself was 
an offence ; but the use of the title Sacred definitely 
fixed Muller's status. Moreover, at even a later date, 
some missionaries in answer to the query from China- 
' T/ie Chinese Classics, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 200. 



men * Where now is Confucius ? ' were prompt to reply 
'In hell.'"^ 

The missionaries of to-day (let us hope against hope 
that there are no exceptions) have abandoned their 
old savage belief that the " heathen " as such are 
destined for eternal damnation. This change of belief 
is of itself sufficient to revolutionise the attitude of 
Christian peoples towards those who are not Chris- 
tians, and surely it makes the need of proselytising 
the " heathen " infinitely less urgent than it seemed 
to be when that theory still held sway. " If God 
be father of all," writes a missionary of fourteen 
years' standing in China, " it is as impossible to 
believe in the Bible as the sole written depository 
of the Spirit of God as in the condemnation of the 
heathen which once we were constrained to believe it 
taught." 2 

It is perhaps more necessary to lay emphasis on 
the value of pure Taoism as an ethical system than 
on that of the Confucian code, for one is apt — 
especially if one lives among the Chinese — to con- 
demn Taoism almost unheard on account of the gross 
superstitions that characterise it at the present day. 
Popular Taoism is and for many centuries has been 
a compound of jugglery and fraud, of pseudo-religion 
and pseudo-philosophy. With all this Lao Tzu had 
nothing to do. That great man and his brilliant 
successor Chuang Tzu — who has been styled the 
St. Paul of Taoism — founded their theory of life and 
conduct on a mysterious entity called Tao^ a word 
which has been variously translated Reason, Realisa- 
tion, the Norm, the Word (X6709), the Way, the First 
Cause, Nature, the Idea of the Good (in the Platonic 
sense), the Creative Principle, Truth, the Metaphysical 
Absolute, Virtue, Wisdom, God. This is no place 

' Prof. G. W. Knox, D.D., LL.D., in The American Journal of 
Theology, October 1907, p. 569. 

* Rev. W. K. McKibben in The American Journal of Theology^ 
October 1907, p. 584. 


for a discussion of the philosophical principles of 
pure Taoism, which has no visible existence among 
the farmers of Weihaiwei. All that need be said here 
is that to understand Tao and to regulate one's life 
according to Tao was to be a chcn-jen, a true man, 
a Taoist. 

As time went on Taoism became ninety-nine parts 
" ism " to one part Tao : it dabbled in alchemy, fortune- 
telling and astrology, and its votaries (who included 
several Chinese emperors) gave themselves up to a 
search for the elixir of immortality and the elusive 
secret of the transmutation of metals. The torch of 
a lofty philosophy passed into the hands of men 
who, instead of using the light to aid them in the 
search for the sublime Tao, soon quenched it in the 
stagnant waters of witchcraft and demonology. Some 
writers seem to have assumed that Lao Tzu, in spite 
of the acknowledged fact of his intellectual and moral 
greatness, was in some mysterious way the unwitting 
cause of the later corruptions : but, as has been said, 
a clear distinction must be drawn between popular 
Taoism (which has little or nothing to say of Tad) 
and the philosophic Taoism which has made a noble 
and permanent contribution to the ethical conscious- 
ness of the Chinese people.^ Popular Taoism pro- 
bably existed, in some form or other, long before the 
time of the compiler of the Tao Te Clung. The 
astrology and alchemy and demonology that give the 
former many of its characteristic features may have 
existed in China from a very remote age. The ex- 
treme antiquity of superstitions of this kind in other 
parts of Asia is an undeniable fact : the records of 
the early civilisation of Chaldaea give us statements 
concerning the sorcerers and astrologers of that 
country that might be applied almost without altera- 

' "Pure Taoism has never ceased to affect the cultured Chinese 
mind, just as pure Shinto-Taoism has never ceased, or did not for 
long cease, to affect the cultured Japanese Court."— Prof. E. H. 
Parker, China and Religion, p. 258. 


tion to the charm-mongerers and adepts of Chinese 
Taoism.^ The philosophy of Lao Tzu may be com- 
pared with a pure sparkling stream that bubbled up 
amid the crags of a lofty range of mountains ; when 
it had flowed down the hillside and began to meander 
through the fields and villages below, its limpid waters 
became ever more and more defiled by the foulness 
and refuse of the plains. Perhaps it would be equally 
true to say that the source of the river of popular 
Taoism lies among the mists and marshes of some 
trackless and pestilential jungle ; that its waters 
throughout the whole of its visible course are muddy 
and impure ; and that the clear mountain stream that 
flowed from the doctrines of Lao Tzu and his inter- 
preters and successors was only a tributary stream 
whose crystal waters were soon lost in the turbid 
flood of the main river. It was a clear perception 
of the fundamental difference between the philosophy 
of Lao Tzu and popular Taoism that induced a 
recent Japanese writer, Kakasu Okakura, to confer 
upon the former the name of Laoism, after its founder, 
and to relinquish to the latter the barren glory of 
the name of Taoism ; - thus in contemplating the un- 
attractive mythology and crude rituals of the Taoism 
of the temples we must beware of laying any of the 
responsibility for such follies on the grand though 
shadowy figure of " the Old Philosopher," in spite 
of the fact that his image has taken its place in the 
Taoist Trinity of gods who are supposed to reign 
(though not to rule) over the phenomenal Universe. 

If it can be confidently asserted that the people 
of Weihaiwei know little or nothing of Laoism, it 
must be admitted that they still cling with apparent 
fondness to the puerile imaginings of Taoism. In 
respect of Confucianism they perform (with zeal and 
sincerity) the traditional rites of ancestor-worship, 

' See Maspero's Daivn of Civilisation^ edited by A. H. Saj'ce, 
translated by M. L. McClure (4th ed., 1901). 

* The Ideals of the Far East (John Murray : 1903). 


and with respect to Buddhism they support (with 
less zeal and less sincerity) a few priests to burn 
incense for them on stated days before the image 
of the Buddha or some favourite pHi-sa such as the 
"Goddess of Mercy": but in other respects Taoism 
may be said to be the religion that monopolises the 
largest share of their attention. The greater number 
of temples in the Territory are Taoist— excluding 
the Ancestral Temples {Chia Miao), which are not 
open to the public. Most of these Taoist edifices 
are poor in outward appearance and their interiors 
are often dirty and evil-smelling ; while the images 
of the numerous Taoist deities are of cheap manu- 
facture and tawdry in ornament. A casual visitor 
might suppose the gods were left entirely to them- 
selves ; for he may go through a dozen temples and 
not find a single worshipper or a single priest. But 
if he scrutinises the altars he will find, amid the 
dust and cobwebs, the ashes of incense-sticks and 
sometimes the remains of little offerings in the shape 
of cakes or sweetmeats, — ^just enough to show that 
the gods are not quite forgotten. It is only the 
largest temples that have resident priests ; the smaller 
ones are either in charge of apprentices or pupil- 
priests or are visited from time to time (as on occa- 
sions of annual festivals or theatrical shows) by priests 
who exercise spiritual superintendence over a group 
of temples scattered over a considerable area. 

The Taoist priests as a class are neither well- 
educated nor zealous in discharge of their simple 
duties, but it would be a mistake to suppose that they 
are all abjectly lazy or energetic only in vice and 
crime. The Weihaiwei priests are as a rule fairly 
respectable in private life ; one of them has done and 
is doing really good work by inducing people to cure 
themselves of the opium habit. A Taoist temple is 
generally the property of a group of villages and the 
"living" is in their gift. When a vacancy occurs in 
a "living," a new priest is selected by the Imi-slwH 


or committee of elders who transact most of the public 
business of the villages concerned, and the appoint- 
ment is absolutely within their discretion. But once 
a priest has been appointed it is (or was) as difficult 
to turn him out as it is to remove a clergyman from 
his benefice in England. In Weihaiwei the usual 
procedure for getting rid of a disreputable priest 
(whether Taoist or Buddhist) is to present a petition 
to the magistrate, setting forth the reasons why the 
priest's continued residence in the locality is con- 
sidered undesirable. The British Government, need- 
less to say, makes no difficulty about his prompt 
expulsion as soon as satisfactory evidence against him 
is forthcoming. 

Some of the priests of Weihaiwei are office-bearers 
in the Tsai Li Sect — a " total abstinence" society (in 
some places semi-political in character) which has 
claimed a large membership in the Weihaiwei district 
ever since the days of the military colonists. There 
are gradations of rank among the Taoist priests, but 
as a rule each is practically independent of the rest. 
The Taoist " Pope " himself— the dispenser of amulets 
and charms who resides in the Dragon-Tiger Moun- 
tains (Lung-hu Shan) of southern Kiangsi — has no 
direct authority over the priests of eastern Shantung, 
or if such authority exists in theory it is not exercised 
in practice. The official duties of the priests consist 
in very little more than looking after the temple 
buildings, seeing to the repair of the images when 
their clay arms and legs fall off (this is a duty they 
often shirk), and calling the attention of the deities 
to the presence of lay visitors who have brought 
offerings and desire to offer up prayers. Their ser- 
vices as magicians and retailers of charms are also 
invoked from time to time by private persons. 

Men and women (especially women) pay occasional 
visits to the temples when they wish to implore the 
aid of a favourite deity in connection with some family 
matter such as the approaching birth of a child, or 


some hazardous business venture, or the ilhiess of 
a relative ; and in such cases they often make vows 
to the effect that if their prayers are granted they 
will make certain additional offerings of money and 

Apart from these visits the temples are usually 
deserted except on one or two annual occasions such 
as the celebration of a local festival. The temple then 
becomes one of the centres of attraction — indeed in 
all probability it is a god's birthday that is being 
celebrated — and its precincts are thronged from 
morning to night by crowds of well-dressed men and 
women and children, eager to register their vows or 
make their petitions. The worshippers knock their 
heads on the ground as an acknowledgment of humi- 
lity and powerlessness, while the priest strikes a 
tinkling bronze bowl with a view to awaking the god 
from his slumbers. In front of every image stand 
jars containing sticks of burning incense, sending up 
clouds of fragrant smoke. The courtyard resounds 
with fire-crackers and bombs which are supposed to 
frighten away any wandering spirits of evil. Dense 
fumes arise from heaps of burning paper repre- 
senting money, prayers and charms, all of which, 
through the spiritualisation wrought by fire, are ex- 
pected to reach the immaterial region of the unseen 

In front of the temple stands the open-air stage 
where a group of masked or painted actors, clad in robes 
resplendent with colour and gleaming with gold em- 
broidery, strive by means of extravagant gestures and 
high-pitched voices to interpret, for the benefit of 
a dense crowd of eager sightseers, their conception 
of some fantastic old-world legend or some tragic 
episode in the bygone history of China. 

To enumerate all the gods and goddesses, great 
and small, that crowd the Taoist pantheon would be 
tedious. Popular Taoism provides deities or spiritual 
patrons for all the forces of nature, diseases (from 


devil-possession to toothache), wealth and rank and 
happiness, war, old age, death, childbirth, towns and 
villages, trades, mountains and rivers and seas, lakes 
and canals, heaven and hell, sun, moon and stars, 
roads and places where there are no roads, clouds and 
thunder, every separate part and organ of the human 
body, and indeed for almost everything that is cogni- 
sable by the senses and a great deal that is not. It 
need hardly be said that no Taoist temple in existence 
contains images of all these spiritual personages, or 
a hundredth part of them. Each locality possesses 
its own favourites. 

The Ts^ai Shen or God of Wealth is popular in 
Weihaiwei no less than elsewhere. He has become 
so important a deity to the Chinese that though he 
belongs to Taoism the Buddhists have been compelled 
to find room for him in their temples in order to 
attract worshippers who might otherwise go else- 
where. China's guests from the Western hemisphere 
have sometimes selected the "god of wealth" as a 
mark for special scorn and ridicule, though why they 
should do so is not quite apparent, inasmuch as the 
devotion to money-getting is quite as strong and 
prevalent among Englishmen and Germans and 
Americans as it is among the Chinese. Moreover, 
after a careful consideration of the kind of prayers 
that are addressed to the god of wealth and the 
popular attitude towards him and his gifts, I am 
satisfied that he is merely regarded as the dispenser 
in moderate quantities of the ordinary good things 
of life. The farmer who prays to Ts'ai Shen in the 
local temple does so in the hope that the god will 
enable him to sell his crops for fair prices so that he 
may continue to bring up his family amid modest 
prosperity. It is very much as if he were to say 
" Give us this day our daily bread " : in fact he some- 
times uses almost those very words. 

The tradesman who burns incense daily in front of 
a strip of paper inscribed with the name of the god , 


of wealth does so because of " old custom," or from a 
vague idea that " it cannot possibly do harm and may 
bring some good luck," or from a more definite re- 
ligious idea that without some support from the unseen 
powers— of which Ts'ai Shen is taken as a representa- 
tive—his business will not prosper. The people of 
Weihaiwei have a very humble idea of what con- 
stitutes wealth. A man was described to me in an 
official petition as a ** lord of wealth " — a common 
expression for a rich man. I had occasion to make 
enquiries into the state of this person's finances, and 
found that his total possessions amounted in value to 
about two thousand dollars Mexican — less than two 
hundred pounds. This was all the wealth he was 
"lord" of. The Chinese Buddhists — in spite of the 
admission of the Taoist god of wealth into their 
temples — have always, in their tracts and sermons, 
sternly discouraged the pursuit of wealth for its own 
sake. There is a saying which one meets with constantly 
in a certain class of Buddhistic work : The mean- 
minded man devotes his bodily powers to the heaping- 
up of money (that is, he regards money as an end in 
itself) ; the gentleman uses what money he has to 
develop his character (that is, he regards money as 
a means to an end). 

Among other popular Taoist deities in Weihaiwei 
are the San Kuan or Three Mandarins, who are sup- 
posed to have a kind of ghostly superintendence over 
sky, earth and water. The three together form a 
trinity-in-unity, and as such are known as the San 
Kuan Ta Ti — literally, the Three-Officials-Great-God. 

Several villages contain little tower-shaped shrines 
harbouring the image of the God of Literature, or 
rather of Literary Composition, who is supposed to 
reside in a constellation of six stars called Wen- 
ch'ang, forming part of Ursa Major. This deity, who 
takes his name from the constellation, receives the 
homage of literary men who aim at an official career, 
and is supposed to have appeared in several human 


incarnations, beginning with one Chang Chung in 
the Chou dynasty. Like many other gods of China 
he is thus nothing more nor less than a deified man. 

Kuan Ti, the God of War, is also a conspicuous 
figure in many temples, and he is officially " wor- 
shipped" in the cities in the second months of spring 
and autumn. He is one of the mightiest of all the 
Taoist gods, though his career as a deity has been 
quite a short one. He also (in the second century a.d.) 
was an ordinary mortal — a great soldier and hero 
named Kuan Yu, who performed many acts of valour 
at a time when China was given up to internecine 
strife. Long after his death he was canonised, but 
it was not till near the end of the sixteenth century 
that one of the Ming emperors raised him to what 
may be called divine rank. His position in China is 
equivalent to that of the Japanese Hachiman, who is 
also a deified human being. Honours have been heaped 
upon Kuan Ti by the present dynasty, and he has 
been raised to a theoretical equality with Confucius. 
Had the Boxers succeeded in driving all foreigners 
out of China it is possible that he (or the deified 
Empress-Dowager herself) might have been raised to 
a position of something approaching pre-eminence 
among the gods of China. 

The walled city of Weihaiwei has, of course, its 
Kuan Ti temple, as we have seen in connection with 
the story of the great fishbone found by one of the 
Liu family.^ In this temple there is a very large and 
heavy weapon which might be described as a kind 
of sword or spear. Weapons of this type are common 
enough in China, though when of such great size and 
weight as that in the Kuan Ti temple they are intended 
more for show than for use, and accordingly find a 
more appropriate position in a temple or an official 
yamen than on a field of battle. The Weihaiwei 
sword — if such it may be called — is of sufficient fame 
to be specially mentioned in the local Annals. It is 

* See pp. 26-7, 


p. 362] 


there described, accurately enough, as being more than 
a chang in length (say about twelve English feet) and 
one hundred catties in weight (say one hundred and 
thirty-three English pounds). The blade is made of 
iron, and there is much skilful and delicate orna- 
mentation in copper. " No other temple," says the 
Chronicle, " has anything like it. Old folks have 
handed down the tradition that it came out of the sea 
with a deep rolling sound (something like the lowing 
of cattle). The people of the neighbourhood heard the 
sound and went near the strange object. When they 
lifted it up and examined it, lo ! it was a great sword. 
So they carried it off and presented it reverentiall}'- 
to the spirit of Kuan Ti." The god of war, obvi- 
ously, was the proper person to possess a weapon 
which no human arm was strong enough to wield. 
The written account gives us no clear statement of 
how this Chinese Excalibur came out of the sea : but 
the present warden of the temple tells a somewhat 
prosaic story to the effect that it was found along with 
sundry other articles, including some arrows and two 
copper bells, in an open boat that was cast ashore in 
the Weihaiwei harbour. The arrows are still in the 
Kuan Ti temple ; the bells are said to have been sent 
off to Wen-teng city, where presumably they still 

The Kuan Ti temple is said to have been the 
scene of at least one miracle. Once upon a time a 
Taoist priest, named Wu K'ao-yii, who was in charge 
of the temple, went out for an evening stroll. Dark- 
ness came on before he returned, and he then remem- 
bered that he had forgotten to light the altar lamps. 
He hunted about for some means of striking a light, 
but found none ; so he decided to go to one of his 
neighbours and borrow a candle. He was grumbling 
at himself for his carelessness when suddenly, in his 
presence, the altar was illuminated by four brilliant 
lights. When he observed that they neither flickered 
nor went out he prostrated himself in reverence ai)d 


repeated part of the liturgy. If the god could provide 
lights for himself, he argued, there was obviously no 
necessity for troubling the neighbours, so he went to 
bed like a sensible man, leaving the lamps to look after 

The question arises, did he ever take the trouble to 
light the lamps again ? To this the chronicler gives 
no reply. The priest was possibly gifted with powers 
which in these days might be termed mediumistic, for 
this was not his only remarkable experience of the 
kind. On one occasion he beheld, in a midnight 
vision, three elaborately dressed men, livel}'- and 
active in manner and of handsome appearance. They 
looked at the priest and all cried out together, "Come 
quickly and save us ! " This remark was twice re- 
peated, and the speakers then vanished. The priest 
immediately arose, and without choosing his path 
allowed himself to be led by unseen influences 
down to the sea-beach. There he saw, lying at the 
edge of the surf, three copper images. Recognising 
them at once as images of the Three Prefects of the 
Sea-King's Palace, he picked them up reverently and 
deposited them in the principal hall of the temple. 
Rumours of the strange discovery soon spread far and 
wide, and crowds of worshippers came to the Kuan 
Ti temple to see the images for themselves and — in- 
cidentally — to make suitable offerings to the highly- 
favoured priest. 

A much smaller deity than Kuan Ti but of greater 
importance to the people in their everyday life is the 
City-god — the Ch'ciig Huang. Every walled city in 
China has a Ch'eng Huang Lao-yeh (His Worship the 
City-god) who acts as its guardian deity. On certain 
fixed days, such as the first and fifteenth of every 
month and on occasions of special dangers or disasters, 
the local officials visit the temple dedicated to this 
deity and burn incense in front of his image, which is 
generally clad in real robes and is of full human size. 
A similar ceremxonious visit also takes place when a 


new magistrate arrives in the city and takes over the 
seals of office. 

In many countries there was once a barbarous custom 
whereby human beings were sacrificed at the building 
of the gates or towers of a city wall and buried 
below the foundations.^ Human blood was believed 
to add strength and stability to the wall, and the 
sacrificed human being was supposed to become its 
spiritual guardian. Sacrifices of this kind are believed 
to have taken place as recently as 1857, ^t the 
foundation of the Burmese city of Mandalay. Not 
only city-walls but bridges, temples, river-dykes, and 
indeed all buildings of importance were supposed to 
be enormously strengthened by the blood and bones 
of specially-slain human victims. In some cases, ap- 
parently, the wretched victims were buried alive. 
There is some reason for believing that human sac- 
rifices occurred at the construction of the Great Wall 
of China in the third century b.c. 

In some parts of the Empire there is still a curiously- 
prevalent belief to the effect that Governments and 

' This detestable custom was practised in many European countries 
as well as in Africa, Polynesia, Borneo, Japan, Indo-China and India. 
[See Tylor's Primitive Culture {^ih. ed.), vol. i. pp. 104 seq. ; Lyall's Asiatic 
Studies (2nd ed.), First Series, p. 25, Second Series, pp. 312-13; 
Grant Allen, The Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 265 (see footnote).] 
Prof. S. R. Driver in one of his Schweich Lectures (delivered before 
the British Academy on April 2, 1908) described some recent archae- 
ological discoveries of great interest in Palestine and the neighbouring 
countries. Some of these discoveries clearly prove that foundation- 
sacrifices existed in those regions. At Gezer, Taanach and Megiddo 
were actually discovered the skeletons of numbers of miserable people 
who had been buried under the corners of walls or under towers. 
That the custom of sacrificing boys and girls was practised in ancient 
Persia we know from Herodotus (Book vii. 1 14). It is not so generally 
known that it was apparently practised in the British Isles not merely 
in savage times but after the introduction of Christianity and even in 
connection with the foundation of ecclesiastical buildings. According 
to a legend which may be founded on fact, Oran, the companion of 
St. Columba, was buried under the foundations of the great monastery 
of lona. For this and many other cases see G. Laurence Gomme's 
Folk-lore Relics of Early Village Life, pp. 24-58. 


official are in the habit of taking a toll of human life 
when they have any great engineering work on hand, 
and bad characters or misguided patriots who wished 
to bring odium upon foreigners have been known to 
circulate stories that Chinese children were being 
kidnapped by Western barbarians for the purpose of 
burying them under a railway or a fort or a dock or 
some great public building. There was a scare of the 
kind among a section of the poorer classes of Hong- 
kong about eight or nine years ago, and in the little 
village known to Europeans as Aberdeen, on the 
Hongkong island, there was, in consequence, a small 
panic. A white ship, said the people, had been seen 
coming by night into Aberdeen harbour, the object of 
those on board being to kidnap Chinese boys and girls 
for purposes of foundation-sacrifices. Yet the people 
of that village had been under direct British rule for 
about sixty years ! It would be interesting to know 
whether the Ch'eng Huang or City-god was originally 
a sacrificed human-being, but the Chinese will not 
admit such to be the case and it is difficult to procure 

The Chinese of to-day profess to think that no such 
barbarous custom can ever have taken place in their 
country, but they are unquestionably wrong in this 
belief: indeed there is some reason to believe that 
the custom is not yet extinct in China.^ As for the 
barbarity of the practice, the Chinese admit that the 
custom of slaughtering men and women at funerals, 
and even burying them alive in the tombs of kings 
and high officials, became extinct only in modern 

• The Rev. Ernest Box, writing on "Shanghai Folk-lore" in ihe Journal 
of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (vol. xxxv. 190 1-2, 
p. 123), mentions that human sacrifices are said to have taken place in 
the building of one of the silk-filatures at Soochow. " I am also 
informed," he says, " that in the potteries in Kiangsi a new furnace is 
secretly consecrated by the shedding of a child's blood, as a sacrifice to 
ward off evil influences or accidents." Mr. Box seems to be inclined 
to ascribe the custom to the desire of propitiating the spirits of the 


times.* Whatever may be the truth with regard to 
the origin of the Ch'eng Huang, the popular belief is 
that he is a kind of ghostly magistrate, and in modern 
times he is generally regarded as the spirit of a former 
magistrate who on account of his blameless life or 
devotion to the interests of the people died " in the 
odour of sanctity." 

Changes and promotions sometimes take place 
among the city-gods just as among the living members 
of the Chinese civil service. The world of the dead 
is supposed to be a reduplication of the world of men. 
One might almost imagine that some rather dull- 
witted Chinese philosopher had heard, and grievously 
failed to understand, the Platonic doctrine of Ideas, 
and had then applied his new learning to the solution, 
by Chinese methods, of the mystery of the land 
from which no traveller returns. Provinces, cities, 
villages, officials and yamen-runners, houses and fields 
and cattle, and indeed all material things were and 
are vaguely supposed to have their immaterial counter- 
parts in the world of shades. It is necessary to 
emphasise the word " vaguely," for no well-educated 
and very few illiterate Chinese seem to hold this 
belief with dogmatic definiteness, and indeed they are 
usually ready to join Europeans in criticising or 
deriding it. But it is a theory that certainly colours 
the traditional Chinese views of death and the 

The city-god takes rank according to the status of 
the living magistrate : a prefectural city is superior to 
that of a district-magistracy, hence the city-god of the 
former takes precedence of the city-god of the latter. 
The deity that presides over the destinies of 
Weihaiwei city is thus very humbly placed among the 
hundreds and thousands of deities of his class, for 
Weihaiwei is only the seat of a hsiln-chien^ — the mere 
deputy of a district-magistrate. It is probable, too, 
that just as the Weihaiwei hsiln-cliien has become an 
* See pp. 225, 274. » See pp. 53-4. 


even less important person than formerly, since the 
establishment of British rule over the territory that 
was once under his supervision, so his ghostly 
counterpart has been obliged to assume a humbler 
position than before in the ranks of the minor deities. 
Yet if local legends are to be credited the Weihai city- 
god was once quite competent to assert his authority 
and defend his reputation. It is generally supposed 
that a deity of this class has control only over the 
people of his own city and its subject territory : 
beyond those limits his powers do not extend. But 
that the Weihai god insisted at one time on respectful 
treatment even from strangers is proved by the 
following incident. In the seventeenth century a 
certain man named Chao, a native of the P'eng-lai 
district in the prefecture of Teng-chou, had come to 
Weihaiwei to transact business. The weather being 
hot he went into the Ch'eng Huang miao (temple of 
the city-god) for an afternoon nap, and sat down 
with his back to the god's image. A bystander, who 
was a local man, hastened to point out that his 
attitude was disrespectful. " It is not proper," he 
said, *' to sit with your back to the god. Wouldn't 
it be wiser to turn sidev/ays ? " Chao smiled scorn- 
fully. " I am a P'eng-lai man ; your god has no 
power over me. I propose to stay where I am." 

Soon afterwards he fell asleep. He slumbered long 
and deeply, and in the middle of the night he 
suddenly woke up and to his horror found himself 
bound hand and foot to one of the rafters of the roof, 
and there unseen hands proceeded to subject him to 
an unmerciful beating. The more he howled the 
faster and heavier came the blows. When he had 
suffered excruciating pain for what seemed to him 
a long time, the thongs that bound him were 
mysteriously loosened by ghostly fingers and he was 
lowered to the floor. Then the flogging began again, 
and the wretched Chao was driven screaming out of 
the temple precincts. Outside the gates he fell un- 


conscious to the ground. When he came to himself 
he was hardly able to move; his body was still 
bruised and scarred, and when he tried to drag one 
leg after the other he writhed in agony. After many 
weary days the pains left him, but his contempt for 
alien gods was a thing of the past : he had become 
a grave and religious man. Before leaving the city 
on his return journey he took care to prove his 
remorse by presenting the outraged deity with a 
beautiful paper horse, which was of course despatched 
to the spirit-world through the usual agency of 

There is a quainter and more touching story told 
of the city-god of the neighbouring district-city of 
Jung-ch'eng. The Chinese, as we have seen,^ regard 
three days in the year as specially consecrated to the 
spirits of the dead, just as there are three special 
holidays for the living. On each of the spirit-festivals 
the Ch'eng Huang is expected to hold a formal 
inspection of his city. His image is accordingly 
brought out of the dingy temple in which it usually 
reposes, placed in an official chair, and carried in a 
noisy and not very solemn procession through the 
principal streets of the town. The story goes that 
during one of these periodical excursions a young girl, 
a member of a well-known local family, was watching 
the procession with the keenest interest. As the 
god's palanquin passed the spot where she was 
standing, she saw the image — or believed she saw it — 
deliberately turn its face in her direction and smile 
at her with a look of friendly interest. Full of excite- 
ment the girl went home and poured out her tale in 
the ear of her mother. The good lady treated the story 
as a kind of joke and laughed gaily at her daughter's 
fancy. *' It is clear," she said, " that Ch'eng Huang 
Lao-yeh wants you for his wife : so off you go to 

A few days passed by and the girl became seriously 

^ See p. 192. 



ill. A doctor was called in, but all he did was to 
look wise, give her a charm to hang over her door, 
and make her swallow some disagreeable medicine. 
In less than a month after the meeting with the city- 
god the girl was dead. During the night following 
her death her mother had a strange dream. She was 
visited by the spirit of her dead daughter, who told 
her that she was now well and happy, for she had 
become the bride of the Ch'eng Huang. Needless to 
say the dream soon became the common talk of the 
neighbours, through whom it reached the ears of the 
district-magistrate. After evidence had been given 
and duly corroborated it was officially decided that 
the Ch'eng Huang's will had manifested itself in an 
unmistakable manner and that to thwart it would 
bring certain disaster on the city. The girl's body 
was therefore buried with much pomp and ceremony 
within the temple grounds, her image, robed in real 
silks, was installed in the central pavilion beside that 
of the god himself, and she received formal recognition 
as the Ch'eng Huang's consort. 

As time went on the dead girl began to acquire 
some local fame as a healer of various diseases, and 
persons who believed she had cured their ailments 
took to buying little votive offerings such as tiny 
pairs of shoes, hair-combs, ear-rings, and other trinkets 
such as Chinese ladies love. These were all stored 
up in the temple, where many of them may still be | 
seen. The citizens of Jung-ch'eng who tell the story 
to strangers and fear it will not be believed are in the 
habit of mentioning a prosaic little fact which, they 
think, must banish all doubt. Every morning, they 
say, a basin of clean water is taken by the priest into 
the inner room which is supposed to serve as the 
sleeping-chamber of the Ch'eng Huang and his wife. 
Having put the basin on its stand the priest discreetly 
withdraws. In half an hour he returns and takes the 
basin away : and lo ! the water is clean no longer. 
This realistic touch is rather characteristic of Chinese 


tales of wonder. Whatever the real origin of the 
legend may be there is no doubt that the city-god 
of Jung-ch'eng does share the honours of local worship 
with a female spirit whose image rests beside his 
own ; and if any one questions whether she was ever 
a living human being he may ask for an introduction 
to the descendants of the very family to which she 
belonged, — for their name is Ts'ai and their home is 
in one of the city suburbs, where they flourish to this 

Just as every town has its Ch'eng Huang Lao-yeh, 
so every village has its T*u Ti Lao-yeh or Old Father 
T'u Ti. He is of course inferior in rank to a Ch'eng 
Huang, and instead of possessing an ornate temple 
and being represented by a full-sized robed and 
bearded image he has no better resting-place, as a 
rule, than a little stone shrine three or four feet high. 
In the case of the Weihaiwei villages this shrine is 
generally situated on the roadside close by the village 
to which it belongs. The ordinary villager's cere- 
monial visits to the local T'u Ti miao or temple of the 
village-god are not very frequent. If he or any 
member of his family is sick he will beseech the T'u 
Ti to grant a restoration to health, and on such 
occasions, or after a cure has been effected, he will 
very often hang little flags of scarlet cloth — they are 
often mere rags — on a stick or pole in front of the 
shrine. The popular T'u Ti of a large village some- 
times possesses a dozen of these simple offerings at 
one time. The death of a villager must be formally 
announced to the T'u Ti, whose duty it is to act as a 
kind of guide to the dead man when he finds himself 
for the first time in the bewildering world of ghosts. 
It is a common sight and a somewhat pathetic one to 
see a long row of wailing mourners, clad in loose and 

' It is probable that similar stories are told of other city-gods, for 
the Rev. Ernest Box {J.R.A.S. {China Branch), vol. xxxiv. p. 109) 
mentions a case in connection with Lutien, a place a few miles north- 
west of Shanghai. 


unhemmed sackcloth and with hair dishevelled, wend- 
ing their way along the village street in the direction 
of the shrine of the T'u Ti to report the death of 
a relative or fellow-villager. The T'u Ti is, in fact, a 
kind of registrar of deaths : the unseen record kept 
by him in the underworld and the family record kept 
by the people in their homes or in their ancestral 
temples, are sufficient to satisfy all Chinese require- 
ments in the matter of death-registration. ^ Births are 
not reported to the T'u Ti, who, being concerned 
chiefly v/ith the world of spirits, is not supposed to 
take any special interest in the multiplication of living 
men. It is to the ancestors that a child's birth (if the 
child be a boy) is naturally supposed to bring joy and 

Beings like the Ch'eng Huang and T'u Ti and 
Hearth-god ^ and many other popular deities may be 
all regarded as included in the list of Taoist gods, but 
as far as ceremony or ritual goes they are really in- 
dependent of Taoism : that is to say, no priestly inter- 
vention is necessary between the god and the person 
who prays. If the rites of Taoism and the major 
Taoist gods were expelled from the land, minor deities 
such as those mentioned might continue to attract 
just as much or just as little reverence as they do at 
present ; similarly ancestor-worship would not neces- 
sarily be affected by the official abolition of the cult 
of Confucius. 

The fact that the T'u Ti is supposed to interest 
himself in such matters as the death of individuals 
seems to suggest that he must have been in origin an 
ancestral god : but I cannot find any trustworthy 
evidence that this is so, though it seems that in some 
cases at least he (like the Ch'eng Huang) was a human 
being posthumously raised to quasi-divine rank. It 

* As the functions of the T'u Ti are, on a reduced scale, similar to 
those of the Cli'eng Huang, it follows that in walled towns it is the 
Ch'eng Huang who receives reports of death. 

^ See p. 193. 




is noteworthy as bearing on this point that no village 
in Weihaiwei, or elsewhere so far as I am aware, 
possesses more than one T'u Ti, though there may be 
two or more " surnames" or clans represented in the 
village ; moreover, when a man migrates from one 
village to another he changes his T'u Ti, although his 
connection with his old village in respect of ancestral 
worship and such matters remains unimpaired. The 
T'u Ti, in fact, appears to be a local divinity who 
holds his position irrespective of the movements of 
families and changes of surnames. It may be that he 
is regarded as representing in some mysterious way 
the first settler in the locality concerned, or the first 
builder of the village. The Chinese T'u Ti seems to 
bear a considerable resemblance to the Uji-gami of 
Japan. As the name Uji implies, this deity was 
evidently at one time regarded as a clan-deity or 
tribal ancestor. But as a Japanese authority has told 
us, " the word Uji-gami or clan-god is now used in 
another sense, namely in the sense of the local tutelary 
god or the patron-god of a man's birthplace or 
domicile." ^ Dr. Aston says that the Uji-gami having 
originally been the patron-gods of particular families 
" became simply the local deities of the district where 
one was born."^ It seems at least possible that the 
history of the T'u Ti has been similar to that of the 

Perhaps Greek and Roman religion may help in 
throwing some light on the subject. Just as we find 
the ancestral cult forming a prominent element in the 
religion of Greece and Rome, so we find traces of the 
existence of something like a T'u Ti. Every family 
had its own altar and its own gods (namely its 
deceased ancestors), and every phratria or group of 
families "had a common altar erected in honour of a 
common deity who was supposed to be more power- 

* Ancestor Worship and Japanese Law, by Mr. Nobushige Hozumi, 

p. 25. 
^ Shinto, p. 10. 


ful than the deities of the households taken separ- 
ately." ^ 

Like the Ch'eng Huang of the city of Jung-ch'eng, 
the T'u Ti of the Weihaiwei district are very often 
if not almost invariably provided with wives, who 
are known as T'u Ti P'o. The T'u Ti and his lady 
are represented by rough stone effigies, about a foot 
in height, which are placed side by side within the 
little stone shrine ; or sometimes the lady has a 
separate shrine, of smaller size, beside that of her 
husband. Some T'u Ti are attended by two T'u Ti 
P'o. On making inquiries into the reason for this 
at a village where the T'u Ti was thus distinguished, 
I was informed that the lady on his left (the place 
of honour) was his wife and the lady on his right 
his concubine. It was pointed out that the concu- 
bine's image was only about half the size of that of 
the wife, which was quite as it should be in view 
of her inferior status. Two explanations were offered 
as to why this particular T'u Ti had been allowed to 
increase his household in this manner : one was that 
he had won the lady on his right by gambling for 
her, the other was that the T'u Ti had appeared to 
one of the villagers in a dream and begged him to 
provide him with a concubine as he had grown tired 
of his wife. The villager called on the local image- 
maker the very next morning, the image-maker went 
to the shrine and took measurements, and in a few 
days a nice new concubine was placed by the T'u 
Ti's side. Whether the dreamer's material position 
underwent any marked improvement about this time 
is not recorded. 

It has been mentioned that little red flags are often 
hung on a stick or pole close by the T'u Ti's shrine 
on behalf of persons whose ailments the T'u Ti is 
supposed to have cured. At first sight one might 
suppose that the flags were intended as thank- 

' Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, " Religion of the Ancient Greek and Latin 
Tribes," in Religious Systems of the IVorld {8th ed.), p. 224. 


offerings to the T'u Ti, but though they certainly 
are regarded as such at the present day, I am strongly 
inclined to believe that they have a quite different 
origin. Similar customs in other parts of the world 
irresistibly suggest the idea that the piece of cloth 
was originally regarded as the vehicle of the disease 
which was supposed to have been expelled from the 
human subject. 

Dr. Tylor refers to "that well-known conception of a 
disease or evil influence as an individual being, which 
may be not merely conveyed by an infected object 
(though this of course may have much to do with 
the idea) but may be removed by actual transfer 
from the patient into some other animal or object."^ 
He goes on to consider many examples of the practical 
working of this conception, and draws special atten- 
tion to the belief common to many parts of the world 
(though China is not mentioned) that disease can be 
banished by driving it into a rag and hanging it on a 
tree : — " In Thuringia it is considered that a string 
of rowan-berries, a rag, or any small article, touched 
by a sick person and then hung on a bush beside 
some forest path, imparts the malady to any person 
who may touch this article in passing, and frees the 
sick person from the disease. This gives great 
probability to Captain Burton's suggestion that the 
rags, locks of hair, and what not, hung on trees near 
sacred places by the superstitious from Mexico to 
India and from Ethiopia to Ireland, are deposited 
there as actual receptacles of disease; the African 
'devil's trees' and the sacred trees of Sindh, hung 
with rags through which votaries have transferred 
their complaints, being typical cases of a practice 
surviving in lands of higher culture." ^ 
There are traces of a belief of this kind in Japan, and 

1 Prhnitive Culture (4th ed,), vol. ii. pp. 148-9. See also Frazer's 
Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. pp. 26 seq., and W. G. Black's Folk 
Medicine^ pp. 34 seq. 

* Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 150, 


I have observed many proofs of it also in the 
border country between China and Tibet, There is 
good reason, I think, to believe that the custom of 
hanging rags in front of the T'u Ti's shrine has a 
similar origin. The fact that the rags are usually 
hung up after the patient has already recovered 
merely goes to show that the primitive meaning of 
the act has become obscured. 

It is probable that the T'u Ti originally had nothing 
to do with the matter. Of what possible use to him 
could be a number of small pieces of ragged cloth, 
unless indeed he wished to make himself a patch- 
work quilt? But as soon as the significance of the 
suspended rag had been forgotten, the idea may very 
naturally have grown up that the practice was essen- 
tially a religious one and ought to be associated with 
some god : and what god so suitable as the local 
guardian-spirit — the T'u Ti — whose shrine was always 
conveniently close at hand, and who was supposed 
to take a personal interest in every villager? As 
soon as the rag came to be regarded as a votive- 
offering the Chinese would naturally select red — the 
colour of joy and good luck — as most acceptable to 
the god and most likely to win his favour. This 
theory will perhaps gain in reasonableness if it is 
explained that the uneducated Chinese of the north — 
including Weihaiwei — do actually believe to this day 
in the possibility of transferring certain diseases from 
a human being to an inanimate object. They declare 
that if a sick person rubs a piece of cloth over the part 
of his body in which he feels pain, and then throws 
the cloth away at a cross-road,^ he will feel the pain 

' Quite an interesting chapter might be written about various beliefs 
connected with cross-roads. See, for example, the superstition referred 
to in Plato's Laws, quoted by Dr. Frazer in The Golden Bough 
(2nd ed.), vol. iii. p. 20 ; and the Bohemian prescription for fever : 
" Take an empty pot, go with it to a cross-road, throw it down, and run 
away. The first person who kicks against the pot will catch your fever 
and you will be cured." {Op. cit., p. 22.) Again, of the Dyaks we are 
told that they "fasten rags of their clothes on trees at cross-roads, 







< ^ 

O <U 










no more. Wayfarers who see such cloths lying on 
the road will on no account touch them, as they are 
supposed to harbour the disease that has been 
expelled from the human patient.^ There are similar 
beliefs in Korea ^ and elsewhere in Asia, and also in 
several countries of Europe.' 

To confine ourselves to Weihaiwei, it should be 
mentioned that the sticks or poles in front of the 
T'u Ti's shrine to which the rags are fastened are 
inserted perpendicularly in the ground in front or at 
the side of the shrine, and are often made to repre- 
sent, on a miniature scale, the well-known mast-like 
poles that stand outside the gates of official yamens 
and the houses and family temples of the literary 
" aristocracy." But sometimes the shrine is shaded 
by the branches of a tree, and in such cases the rags 
may occasionally be seen hanging on the tree itself. 
It is possible that here we hav© something like a 
blending of three old beliefs or superstitions : the cult 
of the local tutelary god, faith in the magical expulsion 
of sickness, and the worship of sacred trees. 

Tree-worship is one of the bypaths of Chinese 
religion. It is not connected, except as it were acci- 
dentally, with Confucianism, Taoism or Buddhism. 
But the bypath is worth exploring if only because 
it leads to a region of folk-lore and myth that is 
common to both China and Europe. The idea that 

fearing for their health if they neglect the custom." (Tylor's Primitive 
Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 223.) Still more remarkable is it to find a 
similar belief in England. " Lancashire wise men tell us, ' for warts, 
rub them with a cinder, and this, tied up in paper and dropped where 
four roads meet, will transfer the warts to whoever opens the parcel.' " 
(W. G. Black's Folk Medicine, p. 41. This author mentions the 
existence of the same superstition in Germany.) 

' For superstitions of the kind in the Shanghai district, see Rev. 
E. Box's " Shanghai Folk-lore" xnJ.R.A.S. [China Branch), vol. xxxiv. 
pp. 124-5. For a Chinese cross-road superstition see the same article, 
p. 130 ; and see Dennys's Folk-lore of China, p. 22. 

^ See Mrs. Bishop's Korea and Her Neighbours, vol. ii. pp. 143 scq., 
and Folk-lore, September 1900, p. 329. 

' See Frgzer's Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. iii. p. 21. 


certain trees are animated by more or less powerful 
spirits, or the distinct and still earlier view that certain 
trees are themselves the bodies of living divinities, 
is a belief that can be traced to almost every part 
of the world. It existed in ancient Rome,^ where 
the sacred fig-tree of Romulus was an object of 
popular devotion ; it existed among the ancient Jews 
at Hebron, Shechem, Ophrah and at Beersheba;^ it 
existed in Pelasgian Attica and neighbouring regions 
thousands of years b.c.;^ it existed in India in pre- 
Buddhistic and post-Buddhistic times — witness the 
history of the famous Bo-tree of Anuradhapura in 
Ceylon, to which pilgrims still flock in their thou- 
sands ; it flourishes to this day in all the countries 
of Indo-China; it is to be found in Korea and in 
many islands of the Pacific ; indeed traces of it exist 
in every part of the world, including western Europe 
and the American continent. No wonder Dr. Tylor 
says of " direct and absolute tree-worship " that it 
may lie " very wide and deep in the early history 
of religion."'' Its extraordinary vitality in Europe 
may be estimated by the fact that though the early 
Christian missionaries on the Continent and in Britain 
anathematised it as idolatrous and endeavoured to 
stamp it out — sometimes adopting the method of 
cutting down a sacred grove and using the timber 
for building a Christian chapeP — traces of the belief 

* See T. R. Glover's Conflict of Religioiis in the Early Roman 
Empire (Methuen & Co., 1909), p. 13. 

2 See the Rev. A. 'SN . Oxford's " Ancient Judaism " in Religions Systefns 
of the World (8th ed.), p. 55. He remarks that the sacred trees at these 
places " were always evergreen trees as being the best symbols of 
life ; ' green ' is the constant adjective applied to them by the prophets. 
The name used for them — ela or eloft — shows that they were con- 
sidered to be divine beings." As regards the choice of evergreen trees, 
see above, pp. 262-4. 

5 See also Mr. A. B. Cook's articles on " Zeus, Apollo and the Oak " 
in The Classical Review for 1903 and 1904. 

* Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 221. The whole subject is 
discussed pp. 214-29. 

' Op. cit. p. 228. 


in sacred trees actually survive in popular traditions 
and local customs up to the present time right across 
the Euro-Asiatic continent from England and Sweden 
to China, Malaya and the islands of Japan. ^ Folk- 
lore has much to tell us about talking trees, and 
trees that could plead for their own lives when the 
wood-cutter approached them with his axe. In 1606 
Lincolnshire was reported to possess " an ash-tree 
that sighed and groaned." ^ 

Apart from all consideration of the origin of may- 
poles, some faint traces of a surviving belief in holy 
trees have been found in recent years in Yorkshire.' 
In Switzerland it is a common belief of the people 
that walnut-trees are tenanted by spirits.* Dr. Frazer 
tells us that " down to 1859 there stood a sacred larch- 
tree at Nauders in the Tyrol which was thought to 
bleed whenever it was cut. ... So sacred was the 
tree that no one would gather fuel or cut timber near 
it; and to curse, scold or quarrel in its neighbourhood 
was regarded as a crying sin which would be super- 
naturally punished on the spot. Angry disputants 
were often hushed with the whisper, ' Don't, the sacred 
tree is here.' " ^ The belief in trees animated by some 

' " Trees of great size and age are worshipped in almost every village 
in Japan. They are girt with honorary cinctures of straw-rope and 
have tiay shrines erected before them." — Dr. Aston's Shinto, p. 45. 
See also W. W. Skeat's Malay Magic, p. 67. 

^ County Folk-loi'e, vol. v. : Li7tcolnshire (David Nutt, 1908). 

' County Folk-lore, vol. ii. : North Riding of Yorkshire, p. 54. 

* Folk-lore Journal, vol. i. (1883), p. 377. For tree-worship in 
Tuscany see Dr. J. G. Frazer's article in Folk-lore, Dec. 1901. 

* Frazer's Golden Bough (2nd ed.), vol. i. pp. 173-4. For Dr. 
Frazer's admirable discussion of the whole subject see especially 
vol. i. pp. 166-232, and vol. iii. pp. 26 seq. See also Grant Allen's 
Evolution of the Idea of God, pp. 1 38 seq. ; Philpot's The Sacred Tree, 
passim ; Maspero's Dawn of Civilisatio7i (4th ed.), pp. 12 1-2; H. M. 
Bovver's The Elevation and Procession of the Ccri at Gubbio (David 
Nutt, 1897), pp. 61, 70 seq., 85 seq., 93 and passim; Griffis's The 
Religions of Japan (4th ed.), pp. 30 seq. ; Ferguson's Tree and Serpent 
Worship, passim ; W. W. Skeat's Malay Magic, pp. 52 seq., 63 seq., 
193 seq., 203 seq. ; Reinach's Orpheus (Eng. tr. 1909), pp. 114, 129. 


kind of divinity or inhabited by spirits is parallel 
with many other ancient animistic beliefs. Just as 
the sea has its mermaids and nymphs and the streams 
have their naiads and water-kelpies and the mountains 
their gnomes and elves, so groves and single trees 
have their haunting spirits, dryads or gods. At the 
present day the popular faith in the existence of tree- 
spirits is exceedingly strong in such countries as 
Burma, the Shan States and Siam ; indeed Buddhism 
was obliged to compromise with the pre-Buddhistic 
animism of those lands to the extent of finding a place 
for tree-nats or tree-spirits — as well as water-nats 
and numerous other fairy-like beings — in its general 
scheme of the cosmos. 

In view of the almost universal prevalence of tree- 
worship of some kind or other it would be strange 
indeed if no trace of it could be found in China. It 
has been said by a writer on the subject that " there 
is very little evidence of the existence of tree-worship 
among Chinese," ^ but as a matter of fact the evidence 
for its existence (though perhaps it is not to be found 
to any great extent in books) is abundant and con- 
clusive. I have myself seen " sacred trees " in at least 
seven provinces of China — Chihli, Shansi, Honan, 
Shensi, Ssilch'uan, Fuhkien and Shantung — and I 
have good reason to believe they are to be found in 
other provinces as well." The trees are generally 
seen in the neighbourhood of a village or sometimes 
in the middle of a village-street ; their branches are 
usually hung with votive-offerings and lettered scrolls, 
and below them are sometimes placed little altars 
with incense-burners and small dishes of sacrificial 
food. Such trees are regarded with veneration, and 

' Philpot's The Sacred Tree (Macmillan & Co., 1897), p. 15. 

' As for example in Kansu. For Kiangsu see J.R.A.S. {China 
Branch), vol. xxxiv. (1901-2), p. 116. For observations on Chinese 
tree-spirits see De Groot's Religious System of China, vol. iv. pp. 272 
seq. and vol. v. pp. 653-63 ; and see Folk-lore, June 1906, p. 190; and 
Dennys's Folk-lore of China, p. 47. 



S>. 380] 


their decay or accidental destruction is looked upon 
as a public calamity. In north China the sacred tree 
seems generally though not always to be a Sophora 
tree, known by the Chinese as liuai} But any one 
who wishes to be convinced that tree-worship is 
still a living faith in China need not travel so far as 
the inland provinces : it is unnecessary to go further 
than Weihaiwei. Close to the picturesque village of 
Lin-chia-yuan (The Garden of the Lin Family) is a 
fine old specimen of the Ginkgo or Maidenhair tree,^ 
known by the Chinese as the pai kiw or " white-fruit 
tree." It is believed in the neighbourhood to be in- 
habited by the spirit of a Buddha or Bodhisatva. 

Here we have an interesting example of how 
Buddhism utilised local legends for its own purposes 
and for the advancement of its own interests. Close 
by the tree stands an old Buddhist temple that dates 
from the T'ang dynasty. Had there been no priests 
to mould the religious ideas of the neighbouring 
villages into a Buddhistic form the tree would still 
have been regarded as the abode of a spirit, but no 
one would have thought of suggesting that the spirit 
was that of a Buddha. The devout Christian need 
not jeer at the harmless wiles of the Buddhist priests 
in this little matter, for the European monks of the 
Middle Ages were equally ready to seize upon local 
superstitions and give them a Christian interpretation. 
" The peasant folk-lore of Europe still knows," says 
Dr. Tylor, " of that old tree on the Heinzenberg near 
Zell, which uttered its complaint when the woodman 
cut it down, for in it was Our Lady, whose chapel 
now stands upon the spot." ^ Exactly the same pro- 
cedure was adopted, as is well known, with regard 
to the sacred wells and springs of our European 
forefathers. It was found a simpler matter to sub- 
stitute the name of a Christian saint for that of a 

' The Sophora japonica. 

* Salisbima adiantifolia. See p. 168. 

^ Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 221. 


heathen divinity than to crush the popular super- 
stitions altogether. " With a varnish of Christianity 
and sometimes the substitution of a saint's name," 
says the writer just quoted,^ "water-worship has held 
its own to this day. The Bohemians will go to pray 
on the river-bank where a man has been drowned, 
and there they will cast in an offering, a loaf of new 
bread and a pair of wax candles." The bread, no 
doubt, represented the old heathen offering to the 
water-spirit, the candles represented the compromise 
with Christianity. But let us refrain from ridiculing 
the superstitions of ** the heathen Chinee " so long 
as we possess such obvious relics of heathendom in 
our own quarter of the globe. 

Signs are not wanting that the old belief in shen shu 
(" spirit-trees "), as they are called by the Chinese, is 
more or less rapidly decaying in this district. Certain 
villages, such as Chang-chia-shan, Wen-ch'iian-chai, 
Ho-hsi-chuang, Pao-hsin and others, possess fine 
old trees which, according to tradition, were once 
" worshipped," but are now only familiar and much- 
loved landmarks which the villagers would on no 
account allow to be removed. I do not refer only 
to the temple-groves and the little woods that shade 
the ancestral burial-grounds, for they, as we have 
seen,^ derive their sanctity from causes not necessarily 
connected with tree-worship. I refer rather to the 
large isolated trees that one sometimes sees in or 
close to a village or overhanging the T'u Ti shrine. 
In the latter case it would be interesting to know 
whether it was the tree or the shrine that first 
possessed the site. Sometimes the little shrine is 
almost hidden by the low-hanging foliage of a group 
of trees — such trees having in all probability sprung 
from a parent-stem. Of the Khond tribes in British 
India it is said that when they settle in a new village 
" the sacred cotton-tree must be planted with solemn 
rites, and beneath it is placed the stone which en- 
' Op. cit. vol. ii. p. 213. * See pp. 261 seq. 



shrines the village-deity." ^ Whatever may have been 
the practice in Weihaiwei, it seems not improbable 
that similar rites once attended the planting of sacred 
trees in some parts of China, 

The proximity of an ancient Buddhist temple is 
sufficient to explain how it is that the sacred tree of 
Lin-chia-yuan is supposed to be inhabited by a 
Buddhist spirit : but no one seems to have thought 
it worth while to proselytise the spirit of the most 
famous tree in the Territory, the sophora of the 
village of Mang-tao, which enjoys a celebrity extend- 
ing far beyond the limits of the surrounding villages. 
Only a year or two ago a serious calamity befell the 
villagers of Mang-tao. During one night of dismal 
memory their famous tree caught fire and was 
destroyed. Their consternation was great, for the 
disaster seemed irremediable ; but the local sages rose 
to the occasion, for they declared that the tree-spirit 
had grown tired of the old tree and had moved into a 
smaller one a few yards further up the village-street. 
As for the fire, it was explained as being fien Into — fire 
from heaven — sent purposely at the instigation of the 
migrated tree-spirit in order to prevent people from 
worshipping the wrong tree. A circumstantial story 
has already been invented in the village to this effect. 
A villager came with incense to pay his respects to 
the old tree which — unknown to him — was now un- 
tenanted. The tree-spirit from his new perch saw 
what was going on, and was much disgusted to per- 
ceive that the old tree, though he had abandoned it, 
was still the recipient of offerings. Grinding his 
branches with rage and jealousy at the vexatious 
spectacle, he persuaded heaven to send a mysterious 
wind that fanned the villager's lighted sticks of incense 
into a mighty flame, which speedily stripped the poor 
old tree of bark and foliage. Whatever the true cause 
of the fire may have been, the fact is indisputable that 
the tree was completely destroyed. Its blackened 

' Tylor's Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 225. 


trunk has been removed by the villagers, so that not 
a trace of the tree now remains ; while its proud 
successor is now decorated with the rags and other 
offerings that once hung upon its venerable branches. 
The Mang-tao tree is prayed to for many things, 
but especially for recovery from illness, and the rags 
are chiefly the offerings of grateful worshippers whose 
prayers have met with favourable response. It is very 
possible that the rags were originally regarded as the 
mere vehicles of expelled diseases in accordance with 
the old superstition already described, but there is no 
doubt that the tree or the tree-spirit is looked upon as 
the power through which the diseases are driven out. 
The Mang-tao tree is often adorned with more than 
mere rags : cloth scrolls on which are inscribed mottoes 
and sentences expressive of gratitude and reverence 
are also to be seen on its branches. Grant Allen 
remarks that '* Christianity has not extinguished the 
veneration for sacred trees in Syria, where they are 
still prayed to in sickness and hung with rags." ^ It 
is interesting to find in a remote Weihaiwei village — 
probably never visited by any European other than 
an occasional Englishman on official duty — a super- 
stition that still flourishes in the very birthplace of 

' The Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 1 50. 



A DISTRICT like Weihaiwei, which is agricultural and 
which also possesses an extensive coast-line, naturally 
pays special reverence to the gods that preside over 
the weather and the sea. Two of the most popular 
of the Weihaiwei deities are Lung Wang — the Dragon- 
king — who possesses the power of manipulating rain- 
falls and is therefore appealed to in seasons of drought, 
and T'ien Hou— the Queen of Heaven, also known as 
Sheng Mu, the Holy Mother — a goddess who is in 
many respects the Taoist counterpart of the Buddhist 
Kuan Yin (the " Goddess of Mercy ") and is regarded 
as a protecting deity of sailors and fishermen. The 
Holy Mother has many shrines along the coast, 
besides a quaint old temple at Port Edward and a 
locally-famous one called Ai-shan Miao on a mountain- 
pass a short distance to the north-west of the market- 
village of Yang-t'ing. The last-named temple, which 
recently has been undergoing a partial restoration, is, 
owing to its position, exposed to the fierce north winds 
of winter and the equally boisterous south winds of 
early summer, and after its erection about the end 
of the fifteenth century it was more than once blown 
down. The priests and other wise men of the time 
deliberated on the question of how to prevent such 
catastrophes in future, and finally decided that the 
best way would be to dig a tunnel through the hill 

38S 25 


from north to south nndenieath the temple, so as to 
give the wind a means of crossing the pass comfort- 
ably without hurting the building. The tunnel was 
duly made and exists to this day. It is over six feet 
in height, four feet in breadth, and perhaps thirty 
yards in length. No self-respecting wind, it was sup- 
posed, would play havoc with the walls and roof of 
the temple when a nice channel had been specially 
constructed for its private use, and indeed for many 
years, it is said, the temple enjoyed complete immunity 
from storms. But the priest now in charge has in- 
formed me regretfully that the tempests of these latter 
days are not so amenable to reason and discipline as 
were those of the good old times. ^ 

Temples and shrines to Lung Wang, the Dragon-king, 
can be seen in or near many villages, sometimes ad- 
joining the shrine of the T'u Ti, and also on many head- 
lands along the coast. The Dragon-king's mother is 
a favourite object of worship as well as the Dragon- 
king himself, and her image often occupies a neigh- 
bouring shrine. The dragon, as is well known, figures 
prominently in Chinese myth and legend and in 
Chinese art-conceptions. It is regarded as a kind of 
symbol of empire and of things imperial : the " dragon- 
body " is the emperor's person ; the " dragon-seat " is 
the emperor's throne ; the " dragon-pen " is the 
imperial autograph ; the " dragon-flag " is the imperial 
standard. The myths connected with the dragon are 
vague and conflicting and no doubt they are of various 
origins, though Taoism, always an eclectic religion, 
has found room for them all in its capacious system. 
There are the dragons of the four quarters of the 
universe and a fifth for the centre ; there are the four 

' We need not jeer at Chinese simplicity in this matter unless we 
reserve some of our gibes for the good folk of Settrington, Yorkshire, 
where " it is considered prudent during a thunder-storm to leave the 
house door open in order to enable the lightning to get out if it should 
come in." (County Folk-lore, vol. ii. : North Riding of Yorkshire, 
l^T- 43-4.) 











dragons of the seas {Hai lung ivang), the dragon of 
rain and clouds, the earth dragon (who is closely 
concerned with feug-shui^), the dragon of hidden 
treasures, the heavenly dragon, and several protean 
dragons that can assume any shape and go anywhere 
they please. The Mother-dragon, judging from her 
clay image in the temples, seems to be quite an 
ordinary and rather benevolent old lady, who — one 
might think — should have been the last person in 
the world to give birth to an uncanny son ; but even 
the Dragon himself is similarly privileged to be repre- 
sented by the image of a man. 

Serpent-worship, which was one origin of the 
dragon-mythology,^ seems to have left several traces 
of its existence in China : large snakes — especially in 
localities where snakes are rare — are often supposed 
to be manifestations of the divine Dragon.^ There is 
another superstition to the effect that certain evil 
demons can assume a serpent-like shape and drive 
men to death by haunting them and climbing on their 
backs.* Very recently (during the summer of 1909) a" 
large snake was killed by lightning near a village close 

* See pp. 119 seq. 

* Serpent-worship was as we know common in Egypt, and also 
among the Hebrews up to the time of Hezekiah, and among certain 
Indian and other Asiatic races. As for " dragons," they existed even in 
Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire (see County Folk-lore, vol. x. p. 33 ; 
and Cotcttiy Folk-lore : Gloucestershire, p. 23). It is unnecessary to 
remind the English reader of St. George and his feats. For further 
parallels see Dennys's Folk-lore of China, pp. 92, 102 seq., 107, no. 

^ Sir Robert Douglas mentions a case in point in his Confucianism 
and Taouism (5th ed.), p. 277. He says of a certain great serpent that 
" Li Hung-chang, the viceroy of the province, came in person to pay 
reverence to it as the personification of the Dragon-king." For a 
discussion of snake-demons in China see De Groot's Religious System 
of China, vol. v. pp. 626 seq. See also f.R.A.S. {China Branch), vol. 
xxxiv. p. 116. For a famous snake-demon legend that has been widely 
accepted in lands other than China, the reader need not look further 
than Genesis, chap. iii. 

* A belief of the kind exists in Japan. See Griffis, The Religions of 
fapan (4th ed.), p. 32. For China, see also De Groot, Religious System 
of China, vol. iv. pp. 214-19. 


to the borders of the Weihaiwei Territory, Next 
morning (the thunderstorm having occurred at night) 
the villagers found the scorched body of the reptile 
and forthwith agreed among themselves that it was 
a devil-snake. Their only reasons for this surmise 
seem to have been its unusually great size ^ and the 
peculiar manner of its death. A devil-snake is sup- 
posed to be nearly as dangerous when dead as when 
alive, so the villagers deputed six of their number to 
carry it to the coast and carefully consign it to the 
ocean. There, no doubt, the sea-dragon could look 
after its own. 

"The Chinese, the Mexicans and the Semitic 
nations," says Dr. Aston, " concur in associating water 
with the serpent." ^ 

Perhaps it was the sinuosity of rivers viewed from 
a height that first suggested the connection, and this 
would also account for the Chinese dragon's association 
with mountains as well as with rivers. It should be 
remembered that when one meets cases of mountain- 
gods, river-gods, sea-gods, tree-gods, one finds one of 
two beliefs, or both inextricably mixed : there is the 
belief that the mountain, river, sea or tree is itself a 
god, and there is the belief that these natural objects 
are merely inhabited or presided over by a god or 
spirit, who may or may not be visible to mortal eyes. 
We know that in the case of sun-worship the earliest 
belief seems to have been that the visible sun is the 
god himself; later on the sun is regarded merely as 
the sun's chariot ; and later still the god (Apollo) 
identifies himself with so many different activities 
and interests that we are apt altogether to forget 
or ignore his primary connection with the sun. 
The case of Zeus, who was originally the deified 
vault of heaven, is a similar one : and there are very 
many others, 

* Large snakes are very rare in Shantung, though pythons are common 
enough in south China. 

* Shinto, p. 42. 


The legend current in Weihaiwei regarding the 
origin of the Dragon-l<;ing (who may be compared 
with the Naga-raja of the Indian peninsula) runs 
somewhat as follows. His mother was an ordinary 
mortal, but gave birth to him in a manner that 
was not — to say the least — quite customary. Being 
in his dragon-shape the lusty infant immediately 
flew away on a journey of exploration, but returned 
periodically for the purpose of being fed. As he 
grew larger and more terrifying in aspect day by 
day his mother grew much alarmed, and confided 
her woes to her husband, the dragon's father. The 
father after due consideration decided there was 
no help for it but to cut off his preposterous son's 
head : so next day he waited behind a curtain, sword 
in hand, for the dragon's arrival. The great creature 
flew into the house in his usual unceremonious 
manner, curled his tail round a beam below the roof, 
and hung head downwards in such a way that by 
swaying himself gently he could reach his mother's 
breast. At this juncture his father came from behind 
the curtain, whirled his sword round his head, and 
brought it down on what ought to have been the 
dragon's neck. But whether it was that his hand 
shook, or he misjudged the distance, or his prey was 
too quick for him, the fact remains that the dragon's 
head remained where it was, and its owner merely 
emitted a strange gurgling sound that might have 
been meant for an expression of irritation or might 
on the other hand have been a draconic chuckle. 
Before the sword could be whirled a second time the 
dragon seized his father round the waist, untwisted 
his tail from the beam in the roof, and flew away to 
the eastern seas. The dragon's father was never 
seen again, but the dragon and his mother were 
elevated to a divine rank from which they have never 
since been displaced. 

The reasons for the elevation to godhead are perhaps 
not quite apparent : but the popular saying that " the 


dragon's bounty is as profound as the ocean and the 
mother-dragon's virtue is as lofty as the hills " has 
a reference to their functions as controllers of the 
rains and clouds. Of other local legends about Lung 
Wang perhaps two will suffice. 

In the Jung-ch'eng district, not far from the British 
frontier/ is a pool of water which though several 
miles from the sea is said to taste of sea-salt, to be 
fathomless, and to remain always at the same level. 
It is dedicated to the Dragon. One day an inquisitive 
villager tried to fathom its gloomy depths with his 
pien-tang or carrying-pole. Hardly had he immersed 
it in the water than it was grasped by a mysterious 
force and wrenched out of his hand. It was im- 
mediately drawn below, and after waiting in vain for 
its reappearance the villager went home. A few days 
later he was on the seacoast, gathering seaweed for 
roof-thatch, when suddenly he beheld his pien-tang 
floating in the water below the rocks on which he 
was standing. On the first available opportunity 
after this, he burned three sticks of incense in Lung 
Wang's temple as an offering to the deity that had 
given him so striking a demonstration of his mira- 
culous power. The Lung Wang of the ocean, it may 
be mentioned, is said to have a great treasure-house 
under the sea in which he stores the wealth that 
comes to him from wrecked junks. Among his most 
precious possessions are the eyes of certain great fish, 
which are believed to be priceless gems. That is the 
reason, say the fisher-folk, why large dead fish, when 
cast up on shore, are always found to be eyeless : 
Lung Wang has picked out their eyes and put them 
among his treasures. 

The annals of Weihaiwei also contain this story. 
In the year 1723 there was a very heavy shower of 
rain. In the sky, among the dark clouds, was espied 
a dragon. When the storm passed off a man 

' Near the village of Hsing-lin (" Almond-Grove "}. 


named Chiang of the village of Ho Ch'ing or Huo 
Ch'ien picked up a Thing that was "as large as a 
sieve, round as the sun, thick as a coin, and lustrous 
as the finest jade. It reflected the sun's light and 
shone like a star, so that it dazzled the eyes." It was 
passed from hand to hand and minutely examined, 
but no one knew what it was. The village sooth- 
sayer was appealed to for a decision. A single glance 
at the strange object was enough for the man of 
wisdom. "This Thing," he said, "is a scale that 
has fallen from the body of the dragon." Chiang 
placed the treasure on his family-altar and pre- 
served it as a precious heirloom, but whether it 
still exists no one seems to know, or those who 
know will not tell. 

Among the greatest of the Taoist gods are Lao 
Chiin,— Lao Tzu himself, who would have been more 
disgusted than most men to know of his future 
deification ; P'an Ku, a kind of magnified Adam ; 
and Yii Huang Shang Ti, the Jade-Imperial-God to 
whom is entrusted the supreme control of the world 
and mundane affairs. The functions of these deities 
are general rather than specific, so it is no wonder 
that they are rather neglected by the ordinary wor- 
shipper, who usually prays to the Taoist gods not 
for the sake of glorifying the divine personage ad- 
dressed (which would be regarded as mere useless 
flattery) but with the direct and avowed object of 
obtaining some benefit for himself or his friends and 

One hears little of Lao Chiin and P'an Ku in 
Weihaiwei — probably most villagers know hardly 
anything of them — but there are several shrines dedi- 
cated to the Jade-Imperial-God. These are little 
stone buildings on the hill-tops. They are perhaps 
the most interesting, if among the most insignificant 
in size and appearance, of all the Taoist temples. 
Mountain-worship is one of the very oldest forms 
of religion in China. The most ancient historical 


records which the country possesses tell us how those 
famous old emperors of the Golden Age — Yao, Shun 
and Yu — offered sacrifices on mountain-tops. The 
old records are so terse in expression that it is 
scarcely possible to say definitely whether the moun- 
tains were worshipped for their own sakes or 
whether they were merely regarded as altars for the 
worship of Shang Ti or T'ien, the One God or the 
Greatest of Gods. As the Emperor Shun (2255-05 
B.C.) and other rulers of that early time (presuming 
they are not altogether mythical) are said to have 
selected particular mountains for their acts of worship 
it seems probable that the mountains themselves, or 
the spirits they harboured, were the usual objects 
of worship ; though it is possible and even probable 
that the imperial sacrifices to Shang Ti (still carried 
out annually on the Altar of Heaven at Peking) 
were also regularly offered up on the summits of 
lofty hills. 

Primitive worshippers of the visible heavens natur- 
ally thought that the higher they climbed the nearer 
they would be to their god and the more acceptable 
to him would be their sacrifices. As time went on, 
four and subsequently five mountains in China were 
singled out as being specially sacred for their own 
sakes as well as for the imperial sacrifices, and those 
Five Mountains (T'Vu Yiieh) have been annually visited 
and worshipped by countless pilgrims through all the 
centuries down to the present day.^ It does not 
appear, from the ancient records of the Shu Chmg, that 

' The Five Sacred Mountains are T'ai Shan in Shantung, Heng 
Shan in Shansi (and a rival claimant of the same name in Chihli), 
Sung Shan in Honan, Hua Shan in Shensi, and the Nan Yiieh in 
Hunan. The Spirits of these Mountains are known as Ta Ti — " Great 
Gods." The most famous of them, so far as literature and tradition go, 
is T'ai Shan ; the most popular (judging from my own observation of 
the number of worshippers during the pilgrim season) is the Nan 
Yiieh; the most beautiful, as well as the loftiest, is Hua Shan, which — 
when there is a railway from Honan-fu to Hsi-an-fu — will become a 
European tourists* Mecca. See supra, pp. 71, 73, 74, 


1 aoism had anything whatever to do with mountain- 
worship in its early days : but it was evidently the 
policy of the Taoists — as soon as they developed 
something like a priestcraft — to associate themselves 
and their cult with every form of worship in the 
country. Thus they soon established a priestly 
guardianship, which they still retain, over the Five 
Sacred Mountains. I have come across, in Chinese 
Buddhistic literature, evidence that the priests of these 
mountains were Taoist priests in the first century of 
the Christian era. No doubt it was natural enough 
that the sacred hills should fall under the priestly 
superintendence of the Taoists, for it was in the dark 
ravines and caves and on the rocky ledges of great 
mountains that the Taoist recluses were accustomed 
to make their solitary homes. 

The impelling cause that first drove them to the 
hills was no doubt to find the magical herbs and roots 
that were necessary ingredients of the elixir of life, 
and to practise the self-control and purity of thought 
that were as essential to success as the mysterious 
draught itself. But the spell of the mountains soon 
became independent of drugs and philosophies. Men 
discovered — many centuries before the sterner aspects 
of hill and forest had begun to make their appeal to 
the poets and artists of Europe — that wild Nature was 
an enchantress who made willing slaves of all who 
had feelings responsive to beautiful sights and sounds. 
The time came when poets, scholars, dreamers — many 
of them Taoists only in name and some not even in 
name — sought the solitude of mountains not because 
they hoped to concoct medicines or acquire strange 
faculties and powers, but because they had fallen 
under the power of the great enchantress, because they 
found amid the sky-piercing crags and cloistered 
watercourses and dark pine-forests of the great 
mountains a companionship, a peace of mind, a pure 
and sometimes ecstatic happiness that they had never 
known and could never know in peopled plains or in 


crowded cities. If one may presume to alter a single 
word of a great poet's confession — 

" The sounding cataract 
Haunted them Uke a passion : the tall rock, 
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, 
Their colours and their forms, were then to them 
An appetite." 

Five mountains, it is hardly necessary to say, were 
too few to satisfy the Chinese longing for natural 
beauty. When the Buddhists came to China in the 
first century of our era they found Taoist recluses and 
priests in possession of the Five Sacred Mountains, 
but it was not long before they, too, fixed upon equally 
beautiful mountain-retreats of their own ; ^ and no one 
who has visited a number of them can fail to be 
struck by the peculiarly keen sense of the loveliness 
of nature that must have guided the Buddhist re- 
cluses in their choice of romantic sites for hermitages 
and monasteries. It is hardly too much to say that 
there is not a beautiful mountain in all China that is 
not to-day or has not been in past time the resort of 
monks and hermits or laymen who have abandoned 
"the world." 

People to whom wild Nature does not appeal with 

' The so-called Four Famous Mountains {Ssii Ta Ming Shan) of 
Buddhism are Wu-t'ai Shan in Shansi, Omei Shan in Ssuch'uan, Chiu 
Hua Shan in Anhui and Pootoo Shan off the coast of Chehkiang. 
After visits to all these hills I am inclined to give the palm of beauty 
to Omei Shan, though the others have great charms of their own, 
more especially the little fairyland of Pootoo, with its silver sands, its 
picturesque monasteries, its tree-clad slopes and the isle-studded deep- 
blue sea that laps its rock-fringed coast. But apart from the Five 
Sacred Mountains (still predominantly Taoist) and the Four Famous 
Hills (almost exclusively Buddhist) there are very many other beautiful 
and famous temple-studded hills in China. Wu-tang in Hupei, T'ai 
Pai in Shensi, T'ien-t'ai in Chehkiang, Huang Shan in Anhui, Shang- 
Fang near Peking, Wu-i and Ku Shan in Fuhkien, the Lo-fou hills 
near Canton, are only a few of those of which the fame has spread 


irresistible force, those whom she does not " haunt 
like a passion," are of course in the overwhelming 
majority in China as everywhere else, and it is just 
as well, perhaps, for the practical concerns of this 
workaday world that such is the case. Yet let not 
the hermits and Nature-worshippers be despised : for 
it is an intense imaginative love of natural beauty that 
has inspired the noblest pictorial art of China and 
has proved the well-spring of her greatest poetry, 
and it was amid the glory and wonder of the eternal 
hills that some of her greatest philosophers have 
pondered the problems of life and death. 

The hills of Weihaiwei, in spite of some fine scenery, 
are of small account when compared with the glorious 
mountains of southern and far western China, but 
even Weihaiwei has its legends of saints and monks 
and "immortals" who made their homes amid the 
rocks and woods. There are no monasteries now in 
this district, but the ravines still contain both Taoist 
and Buddhist temples, each with its priest or two, and 
it is easy to see that the Buddhists have generally 
secured the most charming sites. The bitter coldness 
of the winter is sufficient excuse for the absence of 
residential temples on the hill-tops : though, as we 
have seen, there are many little stone-shrines dedicated 
to the Jade-Imperial-God, the Governor of the Taoist 
universe. This is the deity that has practically taken 
the place (so far as Taoism is concerned) of the 
exalted God of Heaven— T'ien or Shang Ti ^ — who 
was worshipped four or five thousand years ago by 
the rulers of the Chinese people. There are similar 
little Buddhist shrines on the hills, but these are 
comparatively few. Among the greater hills of the 
Territory there are several known locally as Yu 

' Shang Ti is the term that the majority of Protestant missionaries 
in China have adopted to represent the word God. THen Chii (Lord 
of Heaven) is the name selected by the Roman Catholics. The 
Chinese know Protestantism as Ye-stt Chiao (the Jesus Doctrine) and 
Roman Catholicism as T'icn Chu Chiao (the Lord-of-Heaven Doctrine), 


Huang Ting (the Peak of the Jade-God) and at least 
two known as Fo Erh Ting (the Peak of Buddha). 
Every hill also has its shrine — sometimes a mere heap 
of unhewn stones put together without mortar — dedi- 
cated to the Shan Shen or Spirit of the Hill, a divinity 
who belongs to the same order of beings as the Ta Ti 
or Great Gods of the Five Sacred Mountains. The 
hill-gods of Weihaiwei, though they are not visited by 
pilgrim-bands from afar, receive a limited amount of 
** worship " from herdsmen, silkworm-breeders and 
others. On many hill-slopes may also be seen shrines 
to the Niu Wang and the Ma Wang, divinities whose 
business it is to protect cattle and horses, and to 
Ch'ung Wang, the " king of locusts." Locusts, as we 
know, have at various times been a terrible scourge to 
the local farmers. It is supposed that by propitiating 
their king with prayers and offerings they can be 
banished to some locality where prayers and offerings 
are neglected. The Chinese of Weihaiwei say that in 
spite of the devastation that locusts can work among 
crops they are not really so much to be dreaded as 
many other insects who have no king and are there- 
fore under no one's control and subject to no law. If 
monarchical government, it is thought, could be es- 
tablished among the more harmful flies and grubs, 
the happiness of labouring mankind would be materi- 
ally augmented. The shrines to the mountain-spirit 
and the deities that preside over horses, cattle and 
locusts very often contain no images but merely small 
uncarved stones. The images of Yii Huang and other 
deities, when they exist, are usually squat, flat-faced, 
dwarf-like creatures with large heads and small 
bodies.^ Of all these numerous mountain shrines the 

^ The simple uncarved stones seem to gain in interest when we go 
back in thought to the days of the early Greeks and the early Baby- 
lonians and Assyrians. Of the ancient Greeks Pausanias tells us that 
they worshipped the gods through the medium of images, and that 
these images were unwrought stones. Some of the T'u Ti and other 
images that one finds everywhere in Weihaiwei — with their short, 
squat, scarcely human bodies — suggest a transition from the mere un- 













largest are only about eight feet high and six feet 
square, while the smallest are mere dolls' houses. 

The highest hill in the Territory is the central peak 
of the Macdonald Range, in the South District. The 
Chinese name of the hill is Cheng-ch'i or Cho-ch'i 
Shan. Here there are half a dozen or more shrines 
to the various deities mentioned, each containing 
small stone images and stone incense-burners. Just 
below the summit is an old stone slab with an almost 
illegible inscription relating to " Heaven and Earth," 
and close by is a shrine to the Mother-dragon. The 
images are all weather-worn and have an appearance 
of antiquity which is perhaps deceptive, though they 
are probably much older than their stone canopies, 
which — as is stated on several mural tablets — have 
been restored at various times during the present 
dynastic period, beginning in 1644. Besides the 
shrines there is also a small bell-house containing an 
iron bell dated Hsien Feng X (i860), and close by are 
the unrecognisable remains of a theatrical stage where 
performances were at one time given in the middle of 
the seventh month. The principal shrine is the San 
Sheng Miao, " The Temple of the Three Holy Ones " 
of Taoism. 

wrought stone to the carved and finished statue. Similarly in Greece 
we find first the absolutely rough, unhewn stone, such as that which 
represented Eros at Thespioe, next the legless, angular, ugly images 
such as the well-known square Hermes — of which, one would have 
thought, both gods and men should be ashamed — and finally the ex- 
quisite statues of idealised boyhood and youth such as are still a source 
of the purest delight to all lovers of beauty and of art. Unfortunately 
the desire to make the gods appear different from ordinary mankind 
led the Chinese, as it led the Indian and other Eastern races, to what 
may be called the cultivation of the grotesque, so that there is very 
little that is grand or beautiful, as a rule, even in the best of their 
divine images. The finest statues, generally speaking, are undoubtedly 
those of Sakya Buddha. Tradition, in this respect, has been compara- 
tively merciful to the memory of the great Indian philosopher and 
sage. Europeans often find fault with the Buddha-faces for their 
alleged insipidity : whereas what the artist has really aimed at is an 
ideal of passionless repose. 


From this mountain can be seen practically the 
whole of the leased territory of Weihaiwei, laid out 
as it were like a map or — as the Chinese would say — 
like a chessboard. The summit is a ridge which slopes 
southward and northward to the two beautiful valleys 
of Yu-chia-k'uang and Chang-chia-shan. Once or 
twice a year a priest ascends the mountain from a 
temple far down on the western slope, and having 
reached the summit he burns a few sticks of incense 
and recites some Taoist prayers. Occasionally a 
villager climbs the mountain to return thanks to the 
Jade-Imperial-God or the spirit of the mountain for 
granting him success in some family matter or in 
business : but ordinarily the little group of gods on 
the hill-top are left in quietness and solitude. The 
Taoist devotee is not disturbed by uneasy feelings 
that he is neglecting his deities : loneliness and peace 
amid beautiful hills and valleys are or ought to be 
his own ideal, and the gods whom he has made in 
his own image can surely ask for nothing better. 

Of Buddhism in Weihaiwei not a great deal need 
be said. Some of the beliefs and superstitions which 
have been dealt with in this book belong, indeed, as 
much to Buddhism as to Taoism, but the Buddhism is 
of a kind that would not be recognised in south- 
eastern Asia. There are some so-called Buddhist 
temples, each tenanted by a single priest and a 
pupil or two, and proofs are not wanting that many 
centuries ago the sites of some of these rather 
dilapidated buildings v/ere occupied by flourishing 
little monasteries : but Buddhism has long been a 
decadent religion in Shantung, and, considering the 
corrupt state into which it has fallen in northern 
China, its disappearance as a power in the land is 
not to be regretted. Judging from the inscriptions 
on a few old stone tablets it appears that Buddhism 
in the Weihaiwei district reached its most flourishing 
state during the T'ang period (618-905 a.d.). At that 
time, indeed, Buddhist activity throughout China was 



'7 ^ 5 


very great, for though the faith often underwent 
persecution or was treated with chilling neglect, it 
enjoyed from time to time the goodwill and patronage 
of the highest and most influential persons in the land. 

It was during this period that many famous pilgrims 
travelled from China to India — the Holy Land of 
Buddhism— in search of books and relics, and some 
of them left accounts of their travels which are among 
the treasures of Chinese literature. This was, indeed, 
one of the most glorious epochs in Chinese history. 
It was a period during which the Empire, under a 
succession of several able and highly-cultured rulers, 
enjoyed a prosperity — political, social, literary, artistic 
— that it has never quite attained in any succeeding 
age. The prosperity seems as a rule to have affected 
every class of the people and every corner of the 
Empire : even the comparatively poor and bleak 
regions of eastern Shantung shared in the good 
fortune that radiated from the brilliant capital of an 
Empire which — though the fact was undreamed of by 
the young nations of Europe — was undoubtedly the 
mightiest and most highly civilised state then existing 
in the world. 

The existence of large Buddhist monasteries 
generally indicates a fertile and populous tract of 
country, for a large assemblage of monks accustomed 
to live to a great extent on the free offerings of 
the people can hardly expect to be received with open 
arms in a region that is inhabited by a sparse and poor 
population. The monasteries of Weihaiwei, then, 
were always small — none probably harbouring more 
than six to twelve monks. But, like Buddhists else- 
where, the monks who came to this part of the Empire 
took care to select for their dwelling-places the most 
charming and picturesque sites available. The best or 
one of the best of these little establishments was 
known as Ku Shan Ssu — the Monastery of the Ku 
Hill. It was founded between the years 785 and 804, 
and part of it still exists as a small temple pleasantly 


situated at the foot of the hill from which it takes 
its name. Close by is the famous Buddha-tree of 
which mention has been made.^ Not far away from 
the temple, and immediately in front of the British 
District Officer's official quarters, there is a natural 
hot spring that bubbles out of the sandy bed of a 
shallow stream. One can imagine how, eleven hundred 
years ago, the little band of gowned monks, released 
for an hour from the contemplation of Nirvana or 
the service of the Lord Buddha, would wend their 
way in the twilight hour down to the edge of the 
ravine to lave their reverend limbs in those delicious 
waters. The spring is still a daily source of joy to 
hundreds of men and boys from the neighbouring 
villages, but the monks are all gone. 

In the temple there is a large image of the Buddha 
which, say the villagers, was not made but "just 
growed." There is a little story told of this image. 
A peasant-woman was in the habit of cutting fire- 
wood from the shrubs on the slopes of Ku Shan 
and one day she noticed a particularly thick and 
well-grown shrub which she immediately proceeded 
to cut down, leaving nothing in the ground but the 
roots. Next day she happened to pass that way 
again, and to her amazement found another shrub, 
equally thick and well grown, in precisely the same 
spot. Her surprise was great, but seeing no reason 
why she should neglect to avail herself of her good 
luck she treated the second shrub exactly as she 
had treated the first, and took it home. On the third 
day the same thing happened again. The woman 
possessed herself of the shrub as before, but having 
done so she could no longer keep the knowledge of 
these strange occurrences to herself ^nd decided to let 
her neighbours into the secret. 

Next day a large number of her incredulous fellow- 
villagers accompanied her to the spot she indicated, 
and there, sure enough, a lordly shrub had once more 

1 See p. 381. 








made its miraculous appearance. The wise man of 
the party explained that the locality was obviously 
haunted by a powerful spirit, and suggested the 
advisability of digging up the ground to see what 
might be underneath. This was accordingly done, 
and immediately below the roots of the shrub was 
discovered a colossal stone image of Sakyamuni 
Buddha. The village councillors then held a meeting 
to discuss the prodigy, and it was unanimously 
resolved, firstly, that the image had not been carved 
by the hands of man, and, secondly, that a suitable 
resting-place must be found for it as soon as possible 
in a well-conducted Buddhist temple. The temple 
finally decided on was the Huang K'o Ssu — a lonely 
building which still exists on a hillside overlooking 
the village of Fang Chi. Ropes and trestles were 
obtained, and dozens of willing hands volunteered to 
carry the sacred image to the temple selected : but the 
image would not move, A reinforcement of bearers 
was summoned, yet though they pulled and strained 
for over an hour not a single inch of progress was 
made. The wise man then announced that the Buddha 
had evidently taken a dislike to the Huang K'o Ssu : 
perhaps he wished to be taken to the Ku Shan temple 
instead. So the bearers began pulling in the opposite 
direction (for Huang K'o Ssu lies to the south, Ku 
Shan Ssu to the north), and to their astonishment 
hardly any effort on their part was required : the 
image almost went of its own accord. In a short 
space of time the party reached a brook which hap- 
pened to have been swollen by heavy rains. Fearing 
that an accident might occur if an attempt were made 
to cross the brook at that time, the villagers decided 
to leave it on the bank until the flood-waters had gone 
down. At sunrise next day they all returned to the 
spot where the image had been left, but to their 
profound consternation it had disappeared. After a 
prolonged search it was accidentally discovered on 
the jurther side of the brook : obviously it had gone 



across of its own accord ! By this time the villagers 
were thoroughly awed, and even the most irreligious 
of them impressively assured his companions that he 
had decided to devote the rest of his life to piety and 
good works. The wonderful image was duly installed 
in the temple of its choice, and there — amid picturesque 
if somewhat decayed surroundings — it still remains. 

One of the largest Buddhist temples is that known 
as Tou Shan Ssu, situated on a hill overlooking the 
village of Tung Tou Shan. It contains nothing of 
much interest except a " temple of horrors," as 
Europeans usually designate such places, namely a 
roomful of clay images representing the tortures 
applied to sinners in the Buddhist " hells." The 
educated classes of China (including enlightened 
Buddhists) regard such things with good-natured 
contempt. A writer in the Jung-ch^eng Chili^ men- 
tioning the so-called hells of Buddhism, remarks that 
" although this is not in accordance with the true 
worship of the gods it is useful as a means of warning 
and keeping in order the ignorant multitude."^ Into 
the outside wall of this temple has been built a curious 
old stone representing the historical Buddha. The 
style of carving is Indian, such as may be seen in 
many old Buddhist temples in China. The traditional 
Indian styles of what may be called ecclesiastical 
architecture and decoration survived in Chinese 
Buddhistic art long after Indian and Chinese Buddhists 
had ceased to make pilgrimages to each other's countries. 
This stone was doubtless saved for the present build- 
ings during one of the rather frequent restorations 
which this temple has undergone. 

There is now very little that is distinctively Buddh- 
istic in the religious ideas or ceremonies of the 
people, and apart from the priests it is very doubtful 
whether there is a single Chinese in the Territory 

' Cf. the remark of Diodorus Siculus (i. 2) : " The myths that are 
told of affairs in Hades, though pure invention at bottom, contribute to 
make men pious and upright." 



who could give the date and place of the Buddha's 
birth/ much less give any account of the teachings 
of that wonderful man. The reincarnation of human 
souls is vaguely believed in after a fashion, though 
some belief of the kind would probably be found in 
China even though Buddhism had never existed. The 
theory of the "transmigration of souls," which is not 
Buddhistic except in a popular sense, has driven out 
of sight and memory the theory of the reincarnation 
of Karma, which is taught by canonical Buddhism, 
The doctrine of the Buddha on this and many other 
points is too profound to be grasped by the uncultivated 
peasant. The crude idea of "transmigration" has 
been held by numerous tribes and races never reached 
or affected by Buddhism — such as certain American 
Indians, Greenlanders, Australian aborigines, and 
African negroes : indeed it existed in Asia (and 
probably elsewhere) long before the days of the 

Dr. Tylor shows,^ in the case of the Manichaeans and 
Nestorians, that even within the range of Christian 
influence the idea of transmigration has widely 
flourished ; indeed, to a limited extent it apparently 
exists to this day among certain Christians of eastern 
Europe. Thus when a Chinese litigant in Weihaiwei 
presents a petition in which he says, " if I am not 
telling the strict truth may I after death change into a 
donkey or a worm and never more appear in the form 
of a man," he is only expressing himself in the terms 
of a belief that is in reality independent of Buddhism, 
though now closely connected with it in the popular 
mind. I have before me a petition which concludes 
in words that may be translated thus : " If His Worship 
will take pity on his humble petitioner and come to 
his help in the present trouble, then the whole of 
his petitioner's family and all future generations of his 

' In any case they would be wrong, as the Chinese Buddhists ante- 
date the Buddha's birth by several centuries. 
* Primitive Culture (4th ed,), vol. ii. pp. 2 seq. and 14 seq. 


family for a period of ten thousand kalpas (innumerable 
ages) will reverently raise their hands and repeat the 
name of Amitabha Buddha." This, of course, is a 
" patter" taken from the lips of the Buddhist priests; 
Amitabha ^ is the great Buddha-god of the fabled 
Western Heaven — that abode of bliss which in the 
Chinese Mahayana system has practically abolished 
(except for certain monkish schools) the Nirvana of 
primitive and orthodox Buddhism. 

A few stories and legends survive in Weihaiwei to 
show that Buddhism was once a mightier power in 
this part of China than it is at present. Of a fisher- 
man named Miao we are told that once upon a time 
when he was at sea he hooked what he thought 
was a great fish ; but when he hauled in his line he 
found his " catch " was an image of Buddha. Being 
an irreligious man he took a stone and smashed the 
image to pieces. A few days afterwards he sickened 
and died. According to another story an image of 
Kuan Yin (the " Goddess of Mercy ") in the tower of 
the south gate of Weihai city is of pecular sanctity. 
About the year 1650 part of the city wall collapsed 
and the gate-tower fell in ruins : but the image, 
though it was only made of clay, was miraculously 
preserved and was found uninjured on the top of 
the pile of ruins. The people of Weihaiwei mar- 
velled much at this incident and willingly subscribed 
for the restoration of the tower and the shrine. For 
the better protection of the goddess in future, an image 
of Wei To was set up within the shrine, and since then 
there have been no accidents.^ 

' The Japanese Amida. 

* Wei To in Chinese Buddhism is a fabulous Bodhisatva whose 
special function it is to act as protector of Buddhist temples {Vihdra- 
pdla) and all their contents. His image is generally found in the front 
hall of such temples. He is often depicted on the last page of 
Buddhist books : this prevents them from destruction by fire and 
insects, and (it is confidently asserted) compels their borrower to 
return them to their owner. A private Wei To would perhaps be a 
most welcome addition to the furniture of many an Englishman's library. 


A more interesting story is told of Miss Ch'en, who 
was a Buddhist nun celebrated for her virtue and 
austerity. Between the years 1628 and 1643 she left 
her nunnery near Weihai city and set out on a long 
journey for the purpose of collecting subscriptions for 
casting a new image of the Buddha. She wandered 
through Shantung and Chihli and finally reached 
Peking, and there — subscription book in hand — she 
stationed herself at the Ch'ien Men (Great South 
Gate) in order to take toll from those who wished 
to lay up for themselves treasures in the Western 
Heaven. The first passer-by who took any notice 
of her was an amiable maniac. His dress was 
made of coloured shreds and patches and his general 
appearance was wild and uncouth. " Whither away, 
nun ? " he asked. Miss Ch'en explained that she 
was collecting subscriptions for the casting of a great 
image of Buddha and had come all the way from 
Shantung. " Throughout my life," remarked the 
madman, " I was ever a generous giver " ; so taking 
the nun's subscription book he headed a page with 
his own name (in very large characters) and the 
amount subscribed. The amount in question was two 
" cash," equivalent to a small fraction of a farthing. 
He then handed over the two small coins and went 
on his way. 

In course of time the nun returned to Weihaiwei 
with her subscriptions, and the work of casting the 
image was duly begun. When .the time had come for 
the process of smelting, it was observed that the 
copper remained hard and intractable. Again and 
again the furnace was fed with fuel, but the shapeless 
mass of metal remained firm as a rock. The head 
workman, who was a man of wide experience, volun- 
teered an explanation of the matter. " An offering of 
great value must be missing," he said, " Let the 
collection-book be examined so that it may be seen 
whose subscription has been withheld." The nun, 
who was standing by, immediately produced the mad- 


man's money, which on account of its minute value 
she had not taken the trouble to hand over. " There 
is one cash," she said, "and there is another. Certainly 
the offering of these must have been an act of the 
highest merit, and the giver must be a holy man who 
will some day attain Buddhahood." 

As she said this she threw the two cash into the 
midst of the cauldron. The great bubbles rose and 
burst, the metal melted and ran like the sap from a 
tree, limpid as flowing water, and in a few moments 
the work was accomplished and the new Buddha 
successfully cast. This story has a pleasant and in- 
structive little moral of its own, though perhaps the 
Western reader will be chiefly struck by the parallel 
between the madman's two cash and the Widow's 
two mites. ^ In each case the value of the gift lay not 
in the amount given but in the spirit of the giver. 

A glance at the interior of a Buddhist temple at 
Weihaiwei shows that there is little or nothing left 
here of any form of Buddhism that is worthy of the 
name. A native from Burma, Siam and Ceylon 
(where comparatively pure forms of Buddhism are still 
to be found) would recognise the image of Sakyamuni, 
but otherwise he would see hardly anything to in- 
dicate that the Light of Asia had ever penetrated to 
this far corner of the continent. The people, as we 
have seen, know nothing of the life of the Buddha 
and next to nothing of his teachings, while the priests 
— temple caretakers would be a more fitting descrip- 
tion for them — know not much more than the people. 
Here, as in the greater part of China, efforts have 
evidently been made to popularise the Buddhist temples 
by the introduction of the images of Taoist divinities 
— especially the various gods that bring material 
prosperity and heal diseases. A Buddhist temple 
therefore contains nearly as many images as a Taoist 

' Mark xii. 41-4, and Luke xxi. 1-4. Buddhism also has a story of 
a Widow who gave as an offering two pieces of copper. It occurs in 
a Chinese version of the Buddhacarita of Asvagosha. 


temple : if they were excluded the temple would be 
deserted, and the sole revenue— apart from the profits 
arising from a few cultivated fields — would probably 
be a small sum paid annually by laymen for the 
privilege of storing their unused coffins in the temple 

Weihaiwei is not by any means unique in respect 
of the decayed state of Buddhism. It is hardly too 
much to say that Buddhism as a distinct religion only 
exists in China in certain famous monastic centres. 
The only true Buddhists are the monks of the great 
monasteries (to be found chiefly south of the Yangtse) 
and the people of certain localities where monastic 
influences happen to be strong. Elsewhere Buddhism 
has indeed tinged— sometimes very deeply — the re- 
ligious life and customs of the people, especially in 
the beliefs and ceremonies relating to death and burial, 
but it can hardly be said to be a separate living 

Of other religions besides the San Chiao — the "Three 
Doctrines" of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism — 
there is very little to be said so far as Weihaiwei is 
concerned. Mohammedanism exists in certain parts 
of the province — as in Chinan-fu and Ch'ing-chou- 
fu — but there is no trace of it in Weihaiwei or 
its neighbourhood. Both Catholic and Protestant 
Missions exist, and there are some converts to 
Christianity. At present — 1910 — there are reported 
to be about fifty baptized Catholics besides some 
catechumens preparing for baptism ; there are also 
eighty-three Christians belonging to Protestant de- 
nominations. The Christians may thus be said to 
number less than one-tenth of one per cent, of the 
inhabitants of the Territory. 



We have now made a rough survey of the different 
religious systems that are to be found in China, and 
especially in that part of China with which these 
pages are chiefly concerned ; and it is not improbable 
that the reader's verdict will be that Confucianism 
is an admirable if unemotional system of ethics, that 
Buddhism has decayed out of recognition, and that 
Taoism has degenerated into mere ritual, mythology 
and image-worship. But before we reproach the 
Chinese for the childish superstitions that seem to 
occupy so large a place in their outlook on life, let 
us remember that the Chinese are very far from 
believing all they are supposed to believe. , 

When writers on comparative m3'thology and re- ' 
ligion declare that this or that race holds this or that 
strange belief they do not necessarily mean that such 
belief is present to the minds of the people in question 
in the definite and clear-cut fashion that a dogma of 
the Christian faith may be supposed to present itself 
to a devout Catholic. A so-called belief, when it 
comes to be closely examined, is often found to be 
nothing more than some quaint old fancy that has 
crystallised itself in the form of a quasi-religious 
ceremonial. Many a strange national or tribal custom 
that seems to presuppose a definite religious belief j 
is carried on because it is traditional ; the belief that 



it represents may or may not be extinct : in some 
cases, indeed, it has obviously been invented to 
explain the existence of a ceremony the cause of 
which has long been forgotten. Sometimes the 
custom lingers on — like the children's masquerades 
in the first Chinese month at Weihaiwei ^ — not only 
after the ideas that originally prompted it have dis- 
appeared but in spite of the fact that no one has 
thought it worth while to evolve a new theory of 

If it were definitely proved that these children's 
dances sprang from prehistoric magical rites con- 
nected with the growth of the crops, we might 
soon hear from European writers on myth and 
religion that *' the people of Weihaiwei hold certain 
dances in the first inonth of each year in the belief 
that they will conduce to good harvests." Yet this 
would be a misleading statement, for whatever the 
origin of the custom may have been the people of 
Weihaiwei at the present time are absolutely des- 
titute of any such belief. When studying comparative 
religion in books it is very necessary to be on 
one's guard against obtaining quite erroneous im- 
pressions of the actual conditions of belief among 
the people treated of, for however careful and con- 
scientious the writers may be, it is very difficult for 
them (writing very largely from travellers' and mis- 
sionaries' notes) to distinguish between a belief that 
is an active religious force and a stereotyped custom 
which merely represents a belief that existed or is 
supposed to have existed in days gone by. The 
mistakes that arise are of course the natural result 
of studying books about men instead of studying the 
men themselves. Unfortunately all of us are obliged 
to rely on books to a great extent, as life is too short 
to enable each of us to make himself personally 
familiar with the customs and religious ideas of more 
than a very grnall number of different races. But this 

? S^e pp. 183-4. 


fact ought to make us particularly careful not to run 
the risk of misleading others by misunderstanding 
and therefore erroneously reporting the facts that 
have come under our own observation. 

There are few of the minor superstitious practices 
of the Chinese which are regarded by their Western 
teachers as more ridiculous and contemptible than 
their strange fancy that they can send money, articles 
of furniture and clothing and written messages to the 
dead by the simple and economical expedient of 
burning paper images or representations of such 
things. Perhaps at a Chinese funeral one may be 
shocked to see a liberal-minded Chinese gentleman 
of one's own acquaintance joining the rest of the 
mourners in this foolish occupation. If, after having 
gained his confidence, one asks him whether he literally 
believes that paper money will turn into real money 
in the other world or that his dead ancestors actually 
require a supply of money to help them to keep up 
appearances among their brother ghosts, he will in 
all likelihood say that of course he believes in nothing 
of the kind, but that the paper-burning forms part 
of the customary rites and it is not for him to alter 
them. Perhaps he will say that the women and 
children believe, and that an attempt to disabuse them 
of their silly notions might unsettle their minds and 
cause trouble. 

If he is a scholar he will perhaps say something like 
this : " In ancient times real valuables were thrown 
into the grave. Money, jewels, animals, even living 
men and women were once buried with the dead. 
When it was decided that this custom must be given 
up it was thought necessary to keep ignorant minds 
quiet by explaining that worthless imitations of the 
real articles would serve the purpose equally well ; 
so clay and wood and paper began to be used at 
funerals, and their use still continues. It is a foolish 
custom, but we think it helps to convey a useful 
lesson to the average unthinkingi man gand woman 


and makes them feel that they are bound to their dead 
ancestors by ties of love and reverence and gratitude. 
The more strongly their feelings are moved in this 
v^ay the more likely will they be to rule their families 
well and to lead peaceful and orderly and industrious 
lives. They might show love and reverence for the 
dead in some better way than by burning heaps of 
paper ? I grant you : but it happens to be our way, 
and when we ourselves or rather the superstitious 
masses begin to disbelieve in it and laugh at it then 
it will be time enough to make a change." 

But why should we take the Chinese to task for 
a custom which we tolerate within a stone's throw 
of the Vatican itself? How puzzled our Chinese 
gentleman would be, after listening to our arguments 
on the folly of burning paper for the dead, to read 
such a paragraph as this : " In the Church of the 
Jesuit College at Rome lies buried St. Aloysius 
Gonzaga, on whose festival it is customary especially 
for the college students to write letters to him, which 
are placed on his gaily decorated and illuminated 
altar, and afterwards burned unopened. The mira- 
culous answering of these letters is vouched for in 
an English book of 1870."^ 

It is well to remember that as regards the world 
beyond the grave and the nature of spirits the Chinese 
ideas — like those of the average European — are vague 
and inconsistent. The ordinary Christian seems able 
to reconcile in his own mind (perhaps by providing 
himself with separate thought-tight compartments) 
all kinds of heterogeneous beliefs and notions about 
heaven and hell and the Day of Judgment and the 
present lot of those who have " gone before." A 
Chinese who, knowing nothing of Western religious 
notions, began with an unbiassed mind to study many 
of our Church hymns, our old-fashioned epitaphs and 
obituary notices, our funeral sermons and a good deal 
of our serious poetry (such as Tennyson's magnificent 

' Tylor's Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. ii. p. 122. 


" Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington ") would 
probably account for obvious inconsistencies of doctrine 
by the supposition that the eschatological ideas of the 
West were rather like those of his own land, inasmuch 
as each dead man evidently possessed at least three souls 
— one that remained in the grave, another that hovered 
round the bereaved relatives, and a third that wore a 
crown in heaven. Yet the devout church-goer would 
doubtless be surprised to hear that his prayers and 
hymns contained any words which could give an out- 
sider so false an impression of his real belief. 

I have been asked this question : How is it that from 
all accounts the Chinese are such sensible and in- 
telligent men and yet hold such puerile and idiotic 
views about nature and religion ? The answer is that 
backwardness in scientific knowledge (especially in 
such knowledge as has been acquired very recently 
even by Western peoples) is accountable for many of 
their foolish imaginings, but that a very great number 
of the most childish superstitions and customs of the 
Chinese are not founded on any existing beliefs at all 
but are merely traditional forms. The " heathen " 
rites so harrowingly described by missionaries are 
very often much more harmless than one would 
suppose from their accounts. A careless Chinese 
traveller in England might after observing some of our 
English rites and customs tell tales which would make 
England appear hardly less grotesque than poor China 
appears in numberless books written by well-inten- 
tioned foreigners. If he visited an old-fashioned 
country-house in England and watched the yule-log 
blazing in the hall at Christmas time he might suppose 
(after learning the origin of the custom) that his host 
was knowingly practising an old heathen rite connected 
with the winter solstice.^ 

* For other examples of the " extraordinary survival of pagan fancies 
amidst Christian worship " see Gomme's Folk-lore Relics of Early 
Village Life, pp. 138-44 ; and the works of Tylor, Frazer and other 
anthropologists passim. 


At dawn on May Morning it is the custom for the 
surpliced choristers of Magdalen College to ascend the 
Great Tower and there greet the rising sun with 
the sweet strains of a Latin hymn. Just as the full 
circle of the sun flushes with morning light the grey 
stone pinnacles the beautiful hymn comes to an end, 
and the tower — the " dawn-smitten Memnon of a 
happier hour" — trembles and sways as its eight mighty 
bells leap into glad music and awaken " the college of 
the lily" into joyous life. No one seems to know the 
certain origin of the ancient rite of which this is a 
survival, but some have said that it represents an 
old heathen ceremony connected with the worship of 
the sun. The rite (in a modern form) is very properly 
kept up because it is singularly beautiful— the most 
beautiful and impressive ceremony of its kind practised 
throughout the length and breadth of England. But 
would not Oxford be politely surprised and somewhat 
amused if our Chinese traveller were to inform his 
fellow-countrymen that sun-worship was still kept up 
at England's academic capital and that the President 
of Magdalen was an Egyptian initiate or a Druid ? 

The analogy between Chinese and English survivals 
is far from perfect. Heathen ceremonies in England 
have been Christianised ; in China all ceremonies 
remain " heathen." But, after all, the difference ceases 
to oppress us by its magnitude if we regard Religion 
as One though creeds are many. What good do we 
do the cause of truth by heaping disagreeable epithets 
on faiths other than our own ? Socrates was de- 
nounced as an atheist by his fellow-countrymen. 
Which of us now would not be proud to have been an 
atheist with Socrates ? Christians themselves were 
at one time stigmatised as atheists by both Greeks 
and Romans. What good does the Vatican do to the 
cause of Christ by vituperating the Modernists because 
they are honest ? What did Athanasius gain, either 
for himself or for "Orthodoxy," by applying to the 
Arians such ugly names as " devils, antichrists, maniacs 


leeches, beetles, gnats, chameleons, hydras " and other 
terms equally discourteous?^ 

But, comes the reply, when we say the Chinese are 
idolaters we are only stating a simple fact that any one 
can verify for himself. " That the Chinese have 
profound faith in their idols," says a Western writer, 
"is a fact that cannot for a moment be questioned. 
China is a nation of idolaters, and neither learning nor 
intelligence nor high birth tends to quench the belief 
that has come down from the past that these wooden 
gods have a power of interfering in human life, and 
of being able to bestow blessings or to send down 
curses upon men." ^ 

Now this question of idolatry is a difficult one to 
deal with, for plain speaking is sure to offend. It is 
on the heads of the unfortunate Chinese " idols " that 
the vials of Christian wrath are chiefly poured. As a 
matter of fact it is rather questionable whether the 
images in Chinese temples are correctly described as 
idols at all. Surely it would be less misleading to 
reserve that term for images which are regarded as 
gods per se and not merely as clay or wooden repre- 
sentations of gods. One sees a Chinese " wor- 
shipping " an image, say, of Kuan Yin. Does he regard 
Kuan Yin as actually present before him or does he 
merely regard the image as a man-made statue of his 
goddess, — an image set up as an aid to pra3^er or as 
a stimulator of the imagination or the emotions ? 

Theoretically, at least, he most emphatically does not 
believe that the goddess is herself before him : for he 
knows perfectly well that if he walks two miles to 
another temple he will find another image of the same 
divinity ; and that if he wishes to do so he may come 
across three or four Kuan Yins in the course of 
a single day's walk. On the island of Pootoo he 
could see dozens in a couple of hours. Unless the 

' See Max Miiller's Lectures on the Origin of Religion (1901 ed.), 
p. 312. 
* The Rev. T. Macgovvan, Sidelights on Chifiese Lt/e, p. 83. 






















goddess is endowed with multiple personalities it is 
obvious that she cannot possibly be present in every 
image, and that all these clay figures are therefore 
merel}^ lifeless statues which fulfil a useful enough 
function in exciting the devotional feelings of wor- 
shippers who might feel unable to offer up prayers to 
a blank wall. If the Christian urges that the Chinese 
worshipper of Kuan Yin is still an idolater because 
there is no such person as Kuan Yin either in the 
material world or in the spiritual and that there- 
fore nothing remains to worship but the image, it 
may at least be tentatively suggested that if indeed 
there be a God of Love then the prayers that fly 
forth on the wings of sincerity from an upright 
heart will not be allowed — though they be misdirected 
— to flutter aimlessly for ever in some dark region 
of Godlessness. 

That the Chinese sometimes treat the images of 
their gods or saints as if they were sentient creatures 
is true enough. They are taken out in processions, 
for example, and sometimes — if public prayers have 
been disregarded — they are buffeted and even muti- 
lated. This is simply another instance of the remark- 
able inconsistency that seems to go hand in hand 
with religious opinions all over the world, and in 
the case of the most ignorant classes is doubtless 
due to the fact that many uneducated people cannot 
conceive of the existence of a being that is in no way 
cognisable by the bodily senses. Is Christendom free 
from such inconsistency? Certainly not in the matter 
of images,^ as any one may see for himself at any 
time in southern Europe and elsewhere. There is a 
story told of St. Bernard, who eight hundred years 
ago knelt in a cathedral in front of an image of 
Mary. Devoutly and fervently he commenced to 
pray : " O gracious, mild and highly favoured 
Mother of God," he began : when lo ! the image 
opened its lips and vouchsafed an answer. " Welcome, 

' See above, pp. 335 seq. 


my Bernard ! " it said. In high displeasure the saint 
rose to his feet. " Silence ! " he said, with a frown 
at his holy patron. " No woman is allowed to speak 
in the congregation." 

Let us pass this over as a fable, for it finds no place 
in the A urea Legenda and is useful only as an 
indication that St. Bernard, though doubtless a true 
disciple of St. Paul,^ took a somewhat ungenerous 
view of women's rights. But there are other facts 
to be noted which are not fables. ** Is it not notorious," 
says Max Miiller, "what treatment the images of 
saints receive at the hands of the lower classes in 
Roman Catholic countries ? Delia Valle relates that 
Portuguese sailors fastened the image of St. Anthony 
to the bowsprit, and then addressed him kneeling, 
with the following words : * O St. Anthony, be pleased 
to stay there till thou hast given us a fair wind for 
our voyage.' Frezier writes of a Spanish captain 
who tied a small image of the Virgin Mary to the 
mast, declaring that it should hang there till it had 
granted him a favourable wind. Kotzebue declares 
that the Neapolitans whip their saints if they do not 
grant their requests." ^ In a missionary's account of 
China 1 recently came across a statement to the 
effect that in this land of idolatry, gamblers and other 
evil-doers will sometimes take the precaution of 
bandaging their idols' eyes so that the divinity may 
not be aware of what they are doing. This I believe 
is true enough, and it proves that in such cases, at j 
least, the clay figures are supposed to be endowed 
with human senses ; unless indeed the real idea at 
the root of the proceeding is connected with what is] 
known as sympathetic magic: "As I bandage the 
eyes of the god's image so the eyes of the god him- 
self (wherever he may be) will for the nonce bej 
sightless." But even this practice is not unknown 

' I Corinthians, chap. xiv. 34-5. 

- Lectures on the Origin of Religion (1901 ed.), p. 106 Cf. also 
Farnell's Evolution of Religion, pp. 41-8. 


to Christendom, however repugnant it may be to 
Christianity. In the passage from which I have just 
quoted Max Miiller goes on to mention an analogous 
practice in Russia : " Russian peasants, we are told, 
cover the face of an image when they are doing 
anything unseemly, nay, they even borrow their 
neighbours' saints if they have proved themselves 
particularly successful," ' 

There are Protestant missionaries who will agree 
that in tolerating superstitions of this kind the Roman 
Catholics and the Greek Church are as bad or nearly 
as bad as the Chinese themselves — and they will not 
hesitate to let their Chinese "enquirers" know what 
their opinions on the subject are. The Rev. J. Edkins, 
in describing a great Roman Catholic establishment 
at Shanghai, remarks that " it caused us some painful 
reflections to see them forming images of Joseph 
and Mary and other Scripture personages, in the same 
way that idol-makers in the neighbouring towns were 
moulding Buddhas and gods of war and riches, 
destined too to be honoured in much the same 
manner." 2 Elsewhere the same writer remarks that 
" unfortunately, Catholicism must always carry with it 
the worship of the Madonna, the masses for the dead, 
the crucifix and the rosary. Some of the books the 
Jesuits have published in Chinese contain the purest 
Christian truth ; but it is an unhappy circumstance 
that they must be accompanied by others which teach 
frivolous superstition."^ It is interesting to observe 
with what comfortable confidence the Protestant 
missionary tacitly assumes infallibility as to what 
does and what does not constitute the purest Christian 
truth and what is and what is not frivolous super- 
stition. Noah's ark and Jonah's whale would no 
doubt come under the former heading, the doctrine 
of the Real Presence under the latter. Yet Dr. Edkins 

' Lectures on the Origin of Religion (1901 ed.), p. 106. 

* Religion in China (1893 ed.), p. 169. 

* Op. cit. p. 14. 



might have remembered that Roman Catholicism and 
the Eastern (Greek) Church embrace, after all, an 
exceedingly large part of Christendom, and are just 
as confident of their own possession of the truth as 
he was. As for Protestants, if they have refrained 
from worshipping pictures and images, have they not 
come perilously near worshipping a Book ? 

No wonder Emergency Committees and English 
University officials are bestirring themselves to find 
means for the education of China when they are 
told, for example, that the people of that country 
from the Emperor downwards believe that an eclipse 
signifies the eating of the sun or moon by a celestial 
dog or a dragon. Perhaps it may be worth while to 
dwell a little on this particular superstition. I will 
not venture to deny that this quaint belief is honestly 
held by many, but I may say that after questioning 
very many Chinese, mostly ignorant and illiterate, on 
this threadbare subject I have only discovered one 
who appeared (after cross-examination) sincerely to 
believe that eclipses are caused by a hungry beast. 
That person was an old woman (only half Chinese 
by race) who kept a tea-house near Tali in western 
Yunnan. Her confession of belief, I may add, was 
greeted with roars of laughter by the crowd of 
Chinese coolies who were sipping their tea close by 
and who heard my question and the woman's reply. 

In Dr. Tylor's great work we read that the Chiquitos 
of South America " thought " that the moon in an 
eclipse was hunted across the sky by huge dogs, and 
they raised frightful howls and lamentation to drive 
them off; the Caribs "thought" that the demon 
Maboya, hater of light, was seeking to devour the sun 
and moon, and danced and howled all night to scare 
him away; the Peruvians "imagined" that a monstrous 
beast was eating the moon and shouted and sounded 
musical instruments to frighten him, and even beat 
their own dogs in order to make them join in the 
general uproar. Other similar theories existed in 

FU-SANG 419 

North America also.^ It is curious to find such 
customs existing in both Asia and America. Some 
have thought that Fu-sang,^ the mysterious land of 
bUss and immortality, which according to song and 
legend lay very far away in the eastern ocean, was a 
portion of the American continent;^ and it has even 
been held that an ambassador from Fu-sang (or a 
Chinese who had visited Fu-sang and had safely 
returned) was received at the Chinese Imperial Court, 
where he gave an account of the strange land. China's 
possible knowledge of the existence of the American 
continent in prehistoric days is a fascinating subject 
that we cannot pursue here, but with reference to the 
accounts of the American eclipse-theories one feels 
inclined to ask whether the peoples named were as 
a matter of fact convinced of the truth of the dog 
or demon theory while they were beating tom-toms 
and shouting themselves hoarse, or whether the 
practices referred to by Dr. Tylor did not merely 
represent the survival in comparatively civilised times 
of a custom which in a ruder age had been based on 
a real belief This would not of course mean — either 
in China or America — that the belief might not still 
be vaguely held by ignorant women and children and 
even in a thoughtless way by many average men. 
They would " believe " that some horrid beast was 
eating the sun just as a modern child — the Victorian 
child, at least, if not the Edwardian — usually "believed" 
that Santa Claus was a benevolent old gentleman who 
entered people's houses by way of the chimney. 

There are always people to be found in every race 
whose minds are of the receptive but unanalytic order 
— people who continue to believe anything they have 
been told in childhood simply because it does not 
occur to them to ask questions or to think out 

1 Tylor's Primitive Culture (4th ed.), vol. i. pp. 328 seq. 
^ See pp. 21, 24-5. To the Japanese Fu-sang is known as Fusd. 
^ .See Memoire sur Fou-sang, by M. le Marquis d'Hervey de Saint- 
Denys. (Paris, 1876.) 


problems for themselves. Whether such a mental 
attitude is worthy of being called an attitude of 
" belief" is another matter. What makes it sus- 
piciously probable that the shouting and uproar 
among certain American tribes was merely a cere- 
monial survival from a primitive age is the fact that 
entirely different and much more reasonable theories 
of the cause of a lunar or solar eclipse were known 
and apparently assented to by the very people who 
nominally believed in the hungry-dog theory. "Pass- 
ing on from these most primitive conceptions," says 
Dr. Tylor, " it appears that natives of both South and 
North America fell upon philosophic myths some- 
what nearer the real facts of the case, insomuch as 
they admit that the sun and moon cause eclipses of 
one another." ^ A further significant observation is 
made that the Aztecs, " as part of their remarkable 
astronomical knowledge, seem to have had an idea 
of the real cause of eclipses," yet " kept up a relic of 
the old belief by continuing to speak in mythologic 
phrase of the sun and moon being eaten." 

It is the old story, that to introduce changes into 
religious ceremonial is considered impious or sacri- 
legious, even when the advance of knowledge renders 
such ceremonial meaningless. One hears of stone 
knives being used by priests for sacrificial purposes 
long ages after metal has come into common use, 
simply because a kind of sanctity is attached to the 
form of instrument that was used when the sacrificial 
rite itself was young : though it had only been 
selected originally because in the stone age nothing 
better was available. One of the stone knives of 
some Western Churches is the so-called Creed of 
St. Athanasius. There are many other stone imple- 
ments in the ecclesiastical armouries of the West, but 
some of them are cunningly carved and regilded from 
time to time so that as long as no one examines them 
too critically they are regarded without disfavour. 

^ Op. cit. p. 329. 


But the carving and gilding will not hide their im- 
perfections for ever. 

Writing of events at Canton, Dr. Wells Williams 
says that " an almost total eclipse of the moon called 
out the entire population, each one carrying some- 
thing with which to make a noise, kettles, pans, sticks, 
drums, gongs, guns, crackers and what not to frighten 
away the dragon of the sky from his hideous feast . . . 
silence gradually resumed its sway as the moon re- 
covered her fulness." ^ Dr. Williams does not say so, 
but the fact was that the townspeople were simply 
availing themselves of a recognised and legitimate 
opportunity to have what English schoolboys might 
call a " rag." If he had scrutinised the faces of the 
gong-beaters he would have observed that the pre- 
vailing feelings were those of mirth and good-humour, 
not of terror at the occurrence of a distressing 
celestial calamity. The stereotyped nature of the 
official ceremonies (in which every action is carefully 
prescribed) that take place during an eclipse, not 
to mention the fact that eclipses have for centuries 
been regularly foretold by the Court astronomers, 
ought to be sufficient to show that the noisy cere- 
monial is merely a rather interesting survival from 
an age of complete scientific ignorance and perhaps 

It seems very possible, indeed, that the eclipse- 
theory supposed to be generally held in China is not 
a traditional inheritance of the Chinese race but came 
to them in comparatively recent times from some less 
civilised neighbour, possibly an Indian or a central 
Asiatic race. It is hardly likely to have come from 
America ; for even if the Fu-sang stories are not 
mere fairy-tales it is not probable that China can have 
borrowed her superstitions from so distant a source. 
If China was foolish enough to borrow the beast- 
theory from India, she may at least retort that it was 
borrowed by Europe too : for the same theory, with 
* The Middle Kingdom (1883 ed.), vol. i. p. 819. 


or without variations, has existed even on the Con- 
tinent and in the British Isles. ^ 

It is noteworthy that the oldest books extant in the 
Chinese language mention eclipses but give no hint of 
the beast-theory, and the philosopher Wang Ch'ung 
(first century a.d.), whose delight it was to de- 
molish foolish superstitions, mentions several explana- 
tions (wise and foolish) of eclipses without directly or 
indirectly referring to that which we have been con- 
sidering. He would certainly have referred to it if 
it had been known to him. Whatever may have been 
the date of their first observance, the official eclipse- 
rites (which are said to have been recently abolished 
by order of the Prince-Regent) continued to exist 
through the centuries simply because, partly from 
political motives, Chinese Governments have always 
been very reluctant to interfere with established 
customs. Much of the imperial ritual carried on at 
the present day in connection with the worship of 
Heaven and Earth is a pure matter of form so far 
as religious belief goes. If the Emperor gave up the 
grand ceremonials conducted annually at the Altar of 
Heaven it would doubtless be interpreted to mean that 
he had lost faith in his own divine right to rule and that 
the Manchu dynasty was about to abdicate the throne. 

On the whole, then, we may conclude that in spite 
of appearances the Chinese do not, as a nation, hold 
that when the moon is passing through the earth's 
shadow it means that the moon is being devoured by a 
hungry dragon. That very many Chinese will profess 
belief in the dragon, if suddenly asked about the cause 
of an eclipse, is perfectly true. Somewhat similarly, 
many an Englishman, if suddenly asked what became 
of Red Riding Hood's grandmother, would probably 
reply without hesitation that the wretched old lady 
was eaten by a wicked wolf. 

' Tylor, op. cit. vol. i. pp. 333-4. The superstition exists throughout 
Indo-Chiiiaandthe Malay Peninsula. See, for instance, Skeat's yl/rt/rt_>' 
Magic, pp. 11-13. 


A missionary writer already quoted states tliat 
though the Chinese are gifted with a keen sense of 
humour, " when they come to deal with the question 
of spirits and ghosts and ogres they seem to lose their 
reasoning faculties, and to believe in the most out- 
rageous things that a mind with an ordinary power of 
the perception of the ludicrous would shrink from 
admitting."^ That the Chinese (like multitudes of 
Europeans) do believe in some outrageous and 
ridiculous things I am quite ready to admit, but it is 
necessary again to emphasise the undoubted fact that 
many Chinese (like multitudes of Europeans) seem to 
believe in a great deal more than they really do, and 
that what seems like active belief is often nothing 
more than a passive acquiescence in tradition. Let 
us remember that in China, as in our own Western 
lands, relics of early barbarism hold their own through 
ages of civilisation " by virtue of the traditional 
sanctity which belongs to survival from remote 
antiquity."^ As time goes on and knowledge grows 
(especially among the mothers of the race) many of the 
unreasonable forms of traditional belief and many of 
the crude ideas which are accepted in China because 
traditional, though not really believed in, will gradu- 
ally decay and disappear ; arms and heads will fall off 
clay images and will not be replaced ; temple-roofs 
will fall in and will not be repaired ; annual processions 
and festivals will be kept up because they provide 
holidays for hard-working adults and are a source of 
delight to the children, but will gradually become 
more and more secular in character; while ghosts and 
devils will be relegated to the care of lovers of folk- 
lore or (perhaps with truer wisdom) submitted as 
subjects of serious study to a future Chinese society 
for psychical research. 

It often happens that a writer on matters connected 
with religion in a " heathen" land will tell little stories 

' Rev. J. Macgovvan, op. at. p. 67. 
^ Tylor, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 167. 


intended to illustrate the unsatisfying nature of the 
"heathen" rites, thus leaving the inference to be 
drawn that what the unhappy " pagans " are uncon- 
sciously in want of is Christianity with its crystallised 
statements of truth. Such a little story is the follow- 
ing, told by a writer upon whose pages I have drawn 
more than once.^ " ' What have you gained to-day in 
your appeal to the goddess ? ' I asked of a man that I 
had seen very devout in his prayers. He looked at 
me with a quick and searching glance. * You ask me 
what answer I have got to my petition to the goddess ? ' 
he said. 'Yes,' I replied, * that is what I want to know 
from you.' ' Well, you have asked me more than I 
can tell you. The whole question of the idols is a 
profoundly mysterious one that no one can fathom. 
Whether they do or can help people is something I 
cannot tell. I worship them because my fathers did 
so before me, and if they were satisfied, so must I be. 
The whole thing is a mystery,' and he passed on with 
the look of a man who was puzzled with a problem 
that he could not solve, and that look is a permanent 
one on the face of the nation to-day." 

Perhaps there are a good many Englishmen and 
Americans who on reading this instructive little 
dialogue may be tempted to sympathise not a little 
with the idol-worshipper. A profound mystery that 
no one can fathom ! I worship them because my 
fathers did so before me ! Are there not thousands 
and thousands of Western people who might in all 
sincerity use those very words ? For in spite of 
everything that all the Churches and all the prophets 
and all the philosophers have done for us, in spite 
of all we have learned from dogmas and revela- 
tions and sacred books, we are still groping in 
darkness. The whole thing is a mystery, and the man 
who can solve it is wiser than any man who has 
yet lived. Yes, inevitably replies the Protestant 
missionary, but God can solve it : and he has done so, 

' Rev. J. Macgovvan, op. cit. pp. 92-^. 


for to us He has revealed the Truth. Not to you, but 
to Me! cries the Holy Catholic Church. Not to you, 
but to us ! cry the Anglican and the Baptist and the 
Unitarian and the Quaker and the Theist and the 
Swedenborgian and the Mormon and the Seventh 
Day Adventist and the Christian Scientist and the 
Plymouth Brother and the Theosophist. Not to you, 
but to us! cry the Jew and the Mohammedan and 
the Brahman and the Sikh and the Babist and the 

What is Truth ? 

The Castle of Religion is guarded by an ever- 
watchful band of armoured giants called Creeds and 
Dogmas. When a lonely knight- errant rides up to 
the castle gate eager to liberate the lady Truth who 
he knows lies somewhere within, he is met by the 
giant warders, who repel him with menaces and blows. 
"You seek Truth?" they exclaim. " You need go no 
further. We are Truth." Some think that if the 
giants were slain the lordly castle itself would fade 
like a dream. Why should it fade ? More likely is it 
that nothing but their defeat and death can save the 
time-battered walls from crumbling to utter decay ; 
that only then the drawbridge will fall and the 
darkened windows blaze into lines of festal light ; that 
only by stepping across those huge prostrate forms 
shall we ever come face to face with the Lady of the 
Castle — no more a manacled captive, but free and 
ready to step forth, gloriously apparelled and radiant 
with beauty, to receive for the first time a world's 
homage. From the lips of Truth herself will the 
question of the jesting Pilate at last be answered. 



The past history of Weihaiwei is not sucli as to justify 
very high expectations of a dazzling future. It has 
never tasted the sweets of commercial prosperity and 
perhaps it is hardly likely to do so in days to come. 
Its situation near the eastern extremity of Shantung 
is such that the ports of Chefoo and Tsingtao are 
almost inevitably bound to intercept the greater part 
of the trade that might otherwise reach it from west 
or south, while ocean-borne merchandise is not likely 
to find its way into the northern provinces of China 
through the gateway of Weihaiwei when there are 
ports, more favourably situated as distributing centres, 
a few scores of miles further westward. Weihaiwei 
has a valuable asset in its harbour, which is superior 
to that of Chefoo, though its superiority is hardly so 
great as to neutralise its several disadvantages. Yet 
the very unsuitability of the port for purposes of com- 
merce tends to increase its potential value as a naval 
base — if, indeed, all naval bases do not become ob- 
solete in the rapidly-approaching era of aerial warfare. 
The Chinese naval officer of the future may congratu- 
late himself on the fact that here can arise no conflict 
of naval and mercantile interests, such as is bound to 
occur from time to time in ports like Hongkong. The 
deep-water anchorage of Weihaiwei is not large 
enough to accommodate a squadron of battleships as 



well as a fleet of ocean liners, and if Weihaiwei were 
to develop into a great naval port it is difficult to see 
how in any circumstances it could show much hos- 
pitality to merchant shipping. 

The naval authorities of China, therefore, would 
have it "all their own way" in one of the best 
harbours of north China. They could build forts, 
carry out big-gun practice in the neighbouring waters, 
land men and guns for martial exercises at all points 
along the coast, establish naval depots and dockyards 
on the island and the mainland, all at a minimum of 
cost and without in any appreciable degree interfering 
with vested interests ashore. All this was recognised 
by the Chinese Government long ago, when Wei- 
haiwei was, as a matter of fact, a military and naval 
station second only in importance to the Manchurian 
fortress of Port Arthur. 

The conspicuous and not inglorious part played by 
Weihaiwei during the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-5 
has already been mentioned. Many of the guns 
which, it was vainly hoped, would effectually protect 
the approaches to the eastern entrance to the harbour, 
are still lying amid the ruins of a chain of forts extend- 
ing from the village of Hai-pu to that of Hsieh-chia-so. 
The fine military road that connected the forts is now 
in many places barely traceable, for its masonry has 
been carted away by unsentimental Chinese farmers 
for use in the construction of dwelling-houses, and 
here and there the road itself has actually been 
ploughed up and made to yield a scanty crop of sweet 
potatoes,— for even so does the prosaic spirit of agri- 
cultural enterprise avenge itself upon the pomps and 
vanities of wicked warfare. But forts can be re- 
constructed, heavier and more modern guns can be 
purchased, military roads can be rebuilt ; and this is 
what doubtless will take place when China has decided 
to undertake the task of creating a fleet of warships 
and of re-establishing Weihaiwei as a naval base. 

But, the bewildered reader may ask, where does 


Great Britain come in? Is not Weihaiwei a British 
Colony ? If forts are to be built, will they not be 
British forts ; if war-fleets are to ride at anchor in the 
harbour of Weihaiwei, will they not be British fleets? 
The answer to this is that the British Government 
had given up all idea of fortifying Weihaiwei even 
before the result of the Russo-Japanese war and the 
fall of Port Arthur had drawn attention to the merely 
temporary nature of the occupation of Weihaiwei. 
Moreover, Weihaiwei is not officially recognised as 
an integral portion of the King's " dominions beyond 
the seas"; it is occupied and administered by Great 
Britain, but its inhabitants — as we have already 
seen ^ — are not, with technical accuracy, to be de- 
scribed as British subjects. Weihaiwei has never 
been ceded to the British Crown, and when it is 
restored to China the British Crown will suffer no 
diminution of lustre, though doubtless unjustifiable 
murmurs will be heard concerning the damage to 
British prestige. As to when rendition is to take 
place, this is entirely a matter for international agree- 
ment; though it will be remembered that the date of 
the expiration of the original Russian lease of Port 
Arthur will not take place until March 1923.^ 

As the trade of Weihaiwei is (at least from the point 
of view of European mercantile interests) almost a 

' See p. 85. 

^ In Article iii. of the " Port Arthur and Talienwan Agreement " 
between Russia and China it is provided that " the duration of the 
lease shall be twenty-five years from the day this treaty is signed 
[March 27, 1898], but may be extended by mutual agreement between 
Russia and China." It may be noted that the British, German and 
Russian treaties with respect to the leases of Weihaiwei, of the 
Kowloon Extension (ninety-nine years), of Kiaochou (ninety-nine 
years) and Port Arthur (twenty-five years), all stipulate that Chinese 
war-vessels, whether neutral or not, retain the right to the free use 
of the several leased harbours. It is a right that seems to be seldom 
exercised. The ultimate "sovereignty" of China over the various 
leased territories is specially safeguarded in the treaties relating to 
Kiaochou and Port Arthur, and has been admitted in respect of 


negligible quantity, it may be said that the place is 
useful to Great Britain only as a summer resort for 
her warships stationed in Far Eastern seas : and it 
may be observed that as the port is totally unfortified 
the interests of the British Navy would hardly suffer 
if the whole of the mainland territory were unre- 
servedly restored to China and only the island of 
Liukung and the right to use the waters of the 
harbour retained in British hands. An arrangement 
of this kind, however, would only be welcomed 
by China so long as she was without a navy of 
her own. 

A question that is often asked by Western visitors 
to Weihaiwei is one that does not directly concern the 
Government either of China or of Great Britain. Are 
the people of Weihaiwei pleased with British rule? 
Would they be glad or sorry to pass once more under 
the yoke of Chinese administrators ? That the people 
appreciate the benefits directly or indirectly conferred 
upon them by the British occupation there is no 
reason to doubt. ^ That trade — external and internal — 
is brisker, that the people are more prosperous, that 
money circulates more freely and more abundantly, 
that roads and other means of communication have 
been greatly improved — all these things are fully 
realised. But though the shopkeepers and contractors 
on the island and in Port Edward would undoubtedly 
vote — if they had the chance — for the perpetuation 
of present conditions, I have no doubt that if the 
matter were to be decided by a secret ballot among 
all the people of the Territory a very great preponder- 
ance of votes would be given for the resumption of 
Chinese rule. 

It is perhaps unnecessary to cast about for reasons 
why this should be so. Many Europeans ridicule the 
notion that the Chinese possess the virtue of patriotism. 
Even if there be no patriotism (a very rash assumption 
after all) there is certainly a strong racial feeling in 

1 See pp. 93 seq. 


China : and when race and nation are one it may 
perhaps be plausibly argued that racial sentiment and 
patriotic sentiment come to be interchangeable terms. 
Granting that patriotism or some analogous sentiment 
does exist among the people of China, surely no 
Englishman need look further for a reasonable cause 
why the evacuation of Weihaiwei should be welcomed 
by the people.^ The Chinese of Weihaiwei do not 
like to be ruled by foreigners any more than the 
average Englishman would care to see Spanish rule — 
let us say — established in the Isle of Wight, quite 
irrespective of the merits or demerits of the foreign 
rulers and their system of government. 

Too much stress should not be laid on the alleged 
racial antipathy between White and Yellow, inasmuch 
as there is no strong basis for the too common view 
that the people of East and West are so differently 
constituted that they must always remain spiritually 
and intellectually sundered. What is often mistaken 
for a barrier of race is in many cases, I believe, merely 
a barrier of language. The number of men — Chinese 
or English — who can be said to have a scholarly 
knowledge of the two languages is still astonishingly 
small.- Yet there is unfortunately little doubt that the 

' It has been urged in some quarters that the occupation of Kiaochou 
by Germany and that of Weihaiwei by Great Britain are specially 
objected to by the Chinese on the ground that Shantung, through its 
associations with Confucius, Mencius, Chou Kung and other ancient 
sages, is China's Sacred Province, and one that ought to remain 
inviolate. There is no reason to suppose that this notion has any 
basis in fact. The Chinese undoubtedly regard certain districts in 
the south-west of Shantung with immense reverence, more particularly 
the district of Ch'ii-fou, which contains the temple and tomb of Con- 
fucius, but no pre-eminent sanctity attaches to the province as a whole. 
The province of Shantung, indeed, did not exist as such in Confucius's 
time. If China's provinces were to be arranged in order of sanctity or 
inviolability it is probable that both Honan and Shensi would, for 
historical reasons, take precedence of Shantung. 

- There are many Chinese who speak English fluently, and the 
number is increasing daily, but as a rule such persons have devoted 
so much time to the acquirement of a totally alien tongue, and 


antagonism between Europe and Asia, whether the 
causes be racial or merely political, is in some respects 
steadily growing stronger, and it is difficult to see 

" Western learning " generally, that they have been obliged to neglect 
the culture of their own country. (One of the greatest dangers ahead 
of China is the possibility that her foreign-educated students may, . 
through ignorance, grow contemptuous of the intellectual achievements 
of their ancestors, and that Chinese culture may consequently suffer a 
long, though probably it would not be a permanent, eclipse.) There 
are also some Englishmen who can speak Chinese fluently, but very few 
of them have had the time or inclination to acquire a sound knowledge 
of Chinese literature. Thus it too often happens that an educated 
Englishman and an educated Chinese whose natures are such that they 
might become intimate friends, fail to become so through inability to 
exchange ideas in the region of politics, philosopliy, literature or art. 
A German and an Englishman, even if they disagree on the subject of 
naval armaments, may find themselves at one in the matter of the music 
of Mozart or the psychological condition of the mind of Hamlet. 
Between an Englishman and a Frenchman a friendship may spring up 
on the basis of a common admiration for the prose of Flaubert or 
Anatole France or the philosophy of Bergson. But though there are 
now many Chinese who can discourse fluently on evolution or the 
conservation of energy, how many Western students of Chinese would 
bear themselves creditably in a conversation with a Chinese scholar on 
the ethics of Chu Hsi or the poetry of Su Tung-po? In the vast 
majority of cases, conversation between a Chinese and an Englishman 
(unless the relation between them is that of teacher and pupil) is very 
apt to degenerate into the merest " small talk " and exchange of 
civilities, and it is obvious that friendships can hardly be built up on 
so slender a foundation as this. But among those Europeans and 
Chinese who have successfully surmounted the barrier of language 
there is, I believe, nothing to prevent the growth of sincere friendships. 
Yet it should be observed that a recognition of the possibility of 
intimate social intercourse between European and Chinese does not 
necessarily imply an acceptance of the view that the races may safely 
and successfully intermarry. This point must be emphasised, for my 
own views on the subject have been to some extent misapprehended 
by a very friendly critic in The Spectator (August 22, 1908, p. 268). 
This question is really one for biological experts, and no definite 
answer has yet been given to it, though Herbert Spencer, we know, 
was strongly of opinion that the white and yellow races should not 
mingle their blood. From the physiological point of view the question 
is, of course, in no way concerned with any fanciful theories as to one 
race being " higher " than another. (For Herbert Spencer's views see 
the Appendix to Lafcadio Hearn'sya/«« .• an Interpretation^ 


how we can expect that antagonism to diminish so 
long as present political conditions subsist. Asiatics, 
rightly or wrongly, are acquiring the notion that 
European dominion in the East has been due not to 
any intrinsic superiority (biological, intellectual or 
moral) of the white races, but chiefly to temporary 
and (speaking unphilosophically) accidental circum- 
stances that will soon cease to exist. One noble 
Asiatic nation has definitely and probably for ever 
freed herself from " the White Peril," and it is not 
unnatural that other nations in Asia should aspire to 
do the same. 

" The real cause of unrest," it has been recently 
said,^ " is not Indian at all, but Asiatic. The unrest 
is the most visible symptom of that resentment of 
prolonged European domination which is affecting the 
whole continent of Asia. For 300 years the tide of 
European dominion has flowed eastward, but the ebb 
has now set in. Liao-yang and Mukden, the driving 
back of the legions of the Tsar, gave it a stimulus 
far more potent than if Bengal had been administra- 
tively divided into forty pieces. It would probably 
have arisen even if Japan had still remained m chain- 
armour, and had never emerged from the control of 
her Tycoons and her Samurai. It became inevitable 
from the day that steam and quick transit broke down 
the barriers of India's isolation, and her yielding 
people began to cross the seas. It is part of a great 
world-movement, the end of which no man can foresee. 
No concessions, however sweeping, will conjure it. 
We have to reckon with its continued — and most 
natural — increase and growth, and to shape our course 

This is not very pleasant reading for English — or 
indeed for European — ears, but if the facts are as 
stated there is nothing to be gained by ignoring them. 
Setting patriotism and racial prejudices aside, there 

' See an able article on " Britain's Future in India," in The Times 
of June 28, 1909. 


are other reasons why British rule could never be- 
come really popular in Weihaiwei or in any part of 
China. With every wish to rule the people according 
to their own customs and their traditional systems of 
morality, it is not always possible to do so without 
a surrender of much that a European considers 
essential to good order and a proper administration 
of justice. The different views of East and West on 
a matter so fundamental as the rights and duties of 
individuals as compared with the rights and duties 
of the family or clan are alone sufficient to give rise 
to a popular belief that the foreign courts do not 
always dispense justice. Then the Chinese believe 
that our courts are much too severe on many offences 
that they consider venial, and not severe enough on 
offences such as burglary, piracy and armed robbery. 
They also detest our insistence, in certain circum- 
stances, of the post-mortem examination of human 
bodies. Again, they totally fail to understand why 
men who have been charged with a crime and whose 
guilt in the eyes of the " plain man " is a certainty 
should sometimes get off scot-free on account of 
some technicality or legal quibble. If Englishmen are 
sometimes driven to think that " the law is an ass," 
we may be sure that the Chinese are, at times, even 
more strongly inclined to the same opinion. 

If one were to ask a native of Weihaiwei what 
were the characteristics of British rule that he most 
appreciated one would perhaps expect him to em- 
phasise the comparative freedom from petty extortion 
and tyranny, the obvious endeavour (not always 
successful) to dispense even-handed justice, the facili- 
ties for trade, the improvement of means of communi- 
cation. It was not an answer of this kind, however, 
that I received from an intelligent and plain-spoken 
resident to whom I put this very question. " What 
is it we like best in our British rulers? I will tell 
you," he said. " Our native roads are narrow path- 
ways, and very often there is no room for two persons 



to pass unless one yields the road to the other. 
When our last rulers — the Japanese — met our small- 
footed women hobbling along such a path they never 
stepped aside to let the women pass, but compelled 
them to clamber along the stony hillside or to stand 
in a ditch. An Englishman, on the contrary, whether 
mounted or on foot, always leaves the road to the 
woman. He will walk deliberately into a deep snow- 
drift rather than let a Chinese woman step off the 
dry pathway. We have come to understand that the 
men of your honourable country all act in the same 
way, and this is what we like about Englishmen." 

It may seem strange that a native should draw 
attention to a trivial matter of this kind rather than 
to some of the admirable features — as we regard them 
— of British administration, yet there is very little 
just cause for surprise. A year or two ago the corre- 
spondent of a great newspaper indulgently referred 
to Weihaiwei under British rule as affording a con- 
spicuous example of the ability of individual English- 
men to control — without fuss or display of force — 
large masses of Orientals. Let it be granted that 
the English people, or rather some Englishmen, are 
endowed with the twin-instincts to rule with justice 
and integrity and to serve with industry and loyalty — 
for it is only the union of these two instincts or 
qualities in one personality that distinguishes the 
good administrator : but to regard Weihaiwei as an 
example of the English power of successfully ruling 
hordes of alien subjects shows a misapprehension 
of the facts. Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen 
have carried out such splendid administrative work 
in other parts of the world that there is no need to 
give them credit for work which they have not done. 
What makes the people of Weihaiwei law-abiding, 
peaceful, industrious, punctual in the payment of 
taxes, honest in their dealings one with another is 
not some mysterious ruling faculty on the part of 
the three or four foreign administrators who are 















^ — ^ 






















1— 1 











placed over them, but something that has existed in 
China from a time when the ancestors of those ad- 
ministrators were painted savages and England was 
not even a name : it is filial piety, it is reverence for 
law and respect for those in authority, it is the cult 
of ancestors, — it is, in short, Confucianism. " The 
same readiness with which we serve our father," says 
one of the Chinese classics, " we should employ in 
serving our Ruler, and the reverence must be the 
same for both. To honour those who are in a high 
position and to respect those who are in authority 
is our first duty." Again, we are told that " Confucius 
said, the Ruler is served with observance of hsiao 
[filial piety] and elders are served with such sub- 
mission as is due from a younger brother to his elder 
brothers, which shows that the people should make 
no distinction." ^ 

If the Weihaiwei Government deserves any com- 
mendation at all it is only for its acceptance of 
Confucian principles as the basis of administration. 
Confucianism, indeed, is the foundation of the civil 
law that is administered in the British Courts, Con- 
fucian customs are wherever possible upheld and 
enforced by the officials in their executive and judicial 
capacities, and it is by the recognition of Confucianism 
that the Government has been able to dismiss its 
armed force. Philostratus, about seventeen hundred 
years ago, wrote a book in which he tells us how 
Apollonius of Tyana was one day walking with his 
friend and disciple Damis when they met a small 
boy riding an enormous elephant. Damis expressed 
surprise at the ease and skill with which the youngster 
could control and guide so huge a beast ; but Apol- 
lonius succeeded in convincing him that the credit 
was due not to the small boy's skill, but to the 
elephant's own docility and self-control. Should we 
be far wrong if we were to regard the people of 

' These translations are from Dr. De Groot's Religious System of 
China, vol. ii. p. 508. 


Weihaiwei as the elephant and the local Government 
as the little boy that rode it ? Perhaps, indeed, the 
parallel might be applied to British dependencies 
greater and more important than Weihaiwei. 

The people of this corner of China are so ill- 
acquainted with the politics of their country — for 
there is no local newspaper, and if there were it 
would have but few readers — that they possess but 
the haziest notion of the probable destiny of their 
port in the event of its rendition to China and the 
creation of a modern Chinese navy. But indeed even 
Europeans could hardly enlighten them as to the 
probabilities of the future of Weihaiwei unless they 
were furnished with some clue to the solution of a 
much vaster problem — the future of China herself. 

It is most earnestly to be hoped for China's own sake 
that her rulers do not seriously intend, at present, 
to place naval expansion in the forefront of their 
numerous schemes for reform. The subject is one 
upon which a section of the native Press has become 
somewhat enthusiastic, and the recent visit to Eng- 
land of a Chinese Naval Commission, under the 
leadership of an Imperial prince, naturally leads one 
to suppose that the Government is actually about to 
undertake the exceedingly difficult, dangerous and 
most costly work of securing for China a place among 
the Naval Powers, Many of China's Western sym- 
pathisers — especially those who have not lived in 
the East — probably regard this as the best possible 
proof that China is "pulling herself together" and 
is already far advanced on the road of regeneration. 
But there is hardly a man among China's foreign 
friends and sympathisers resident in the East who 
does not regard the navy scheme with dismay and 
disappointment. At some future date the Chinese 
may be fully justified in acquiring a great navy, but 
to build a really serviceable modern fleet at the present 
time is to invite a financial and political disaster of 
appalling magnitude. Even if the project comes to 


nothing it is a bad omen for the future that the 
Chinese Government should give it serious considera- 
tion at a time when all the energies and resources of 
the Empire should be devoted to internal reform and 
development. If China's responsible rulers do not 
realise the precarious position into which the country 
has drifted and the pressing necessity of administrative 
reform, they are not fit to hold the helm of the State. 
Common sense — if they are devoid of the higher 
qualities of statesmanship — should tell them that until 
the existing departments of Government have been 
thoroughly reorganised, corruption stamped out, and 
a spirit of loyalty and patriotism infused into all ranks 
of the Civil Service, the creation of a great spending 
department, such as an Admiralty or Naval Board, 
will merely add enormously to the financial burdens 
of the country without providing it with any reliable 
safeguard or protection in the event of war. 

The unfortunate thing is that every warning of this 
kind received by China from her foreign friends is 
received by her with doubt and suspicion. She has 
realised that in one foreign war after another her 
military and naval weakness has led her — or has 
helped to lead her — through the dark shadows of 
defeat and humiliation, and she is intensely desirous 
of making such provision for her own protection that 
in future foreign wars she may not be foredoomed to 
disaster. When she is advised to content herself, for 
the present, with a small though well-equipped army 
and the most modest of coast-defence fleets, she sus- 
pects that her advisers wish to keep her in a state of 
perpetual weakness, so that they may continue to help 
themselves, from time to time, to treaty-ports, trade 
privileges, sites for churches and other missionary 
buildings, mining and railway concessions and cash- 
indemnities. At the present time the Power which 
she regards with a more friendly eye than any other 
is undoubtedly the United States of America — the 
only Great Power that has occupied none of her 


territory and the one against which she believes 
herself to have least reason for complaint. A few 
years ago many Western dwellers in China were 
inclined to predict that a powerful offensive and de- 
fensive alliance would be entered into by China and 
Japan, or that Japan would assume the hegemony of 
the Far East and having created a reformed China 
would draw upon the immense resources of that 
country to help her in establishing the supremacy of 
the Yellow Race in the Eastern hemisphere. One does 
not often hear this view expressed to-day, not only 
because of the repeated occurrence of serious disputes 
between the Chinese and Japanese Governments with 
reference to Manchurian and other problems, but also 
because it is now seen that the growth of a really 
strong and progressive China cannot be regarded 
without grave alarm by the far-seeing statesmen of 
Japan. The whole of the Japanese Empire, be it 
remembered, might be packed into one of China's 
provinces ; the population of Japan is only about 
one-tenth that of China, and her natural resources 
are meagre compared with those of her huge neigh- 
bour. If the development of China proceeds on the 
same proportionate scale as that of Japan (and the 
Japanese themselves realise that this is no impossi- 
bility), it is difficult to see how Japan can reasonably 
hope to maintain her present international position. 

We have heard a great deal lately about the mo- 
mentous change in the European balance of power 
caused by the great advance of Germany in population 
and wealth : let us give a loose rein to our imagina- 
tions and suppose that the German Empire by skilful 
diplomacy or other means has further succeeded in 
annexing Austria, Denmark, Belgium and Holland, 
and by successful warfare has reduced France, Italy 
and Russia to a state of military imbecility. The 
position of Great Britain in these circumstances 
would, to say the least, be precarious and unenviable. 
If she did not become the "conscript appanage" of 


a "stronger Power" (to use the warning words of a 
British Cabinet Minister) she would at least be in 
a state of chronic peril, and subject to periodical 
panics that might end in the disorganisation of all 
industry and the demoralisation of the people. 
England's position as opposed to that of a vastly- 
magnified Germany would be similar in many ways 
to that which Japan would occupy relatively to 
a reformed, united and progressive China. Indeed, 
Japan would be in a worse case than England : for 
England has beaten one Napoleon, and, by again 
championing the cause of the down-trodden states of 
a heterogeneous Europe, she might conceivably beat 
another ; whereas Japan would perhaps find herself 
faced not by a single powerful tyrant, under whose 
dominion vassal states writhed and groaned, but by 
a vast homogeneous people who through careful dis- 
cipline and wise statesmanship had learned to sink 
provincial rivalries in a splendid realisation of racial 
solidarity and national patriotism. 

Thus we need not be surprised if during the years 
of China's education and growth Japanese diplomacy 
in respect of Chinese affairs is to some extent charac- 
terised by petulance, hesitation, vacillation, and occa- 
sional displays of " bluff." ^ The policy of Japan must 
necessarily hover between two extremes : she does 
not wish to see China partitioned, for this would 
mean a strengthening of European influence in Asia 
which might be disastrous to Japanese interests ; nor 
does she wish to see China become one of the Great 
Powers of the world, for this would inevitably lead 
to her own partial eclipse, China is now well aware 
of the delicate position of the Japanese Eoreign Office, 
and it is on the whole improbable that she will readily 
consent to a Japanese alliance, even if she finds herself 

' In her purely commercial relations with China, Japan's policy will 
of course continue to be consistent and strenuously active. It is a 
vital necessity to Japan that she should enjoy a large share of China's 
foreign trade. 


seriously menaced by the armed strength of Europe — 
happily a most unlikely event. She knows that the 
differences of opinion between Japan and the United 
States are not yet a forgotten chapter in international 
politics/ and this fact, perhaps, will make her all the 
readier to throw herself into the arms of the great 
American Republic. It is well to remember, however, 
that racial and industrial rivalries between China and 
America may some day become dangerously acute. 
Even now, while such rivalries loom no larger in 
the political firmament than a man's hand, there are 
whispers of storms to come. Meanwhile, China is 
beginning to realise that the most wide-awake of 
modern states does not propose to hamper her own 
freedom by watching over a nation that has hitherto 
been regarded as the most somnolent in the world. 
Even the strong matronly arms of the United States 
might grow weary of carrying about so bulky an infant 
as a China that only woke up in order to experience 
the luxurious delight of going to sleep again. The 
Chinese dimly understand that until they have raised 
themselves out of their present condition of political 
helplessness they cannot expect to get more from 
the United States or from any other Great Power 
than amiable professions of goodwill. 

But China has not yet fully grasped the truth that 
military and naval strength is not the only qualifica- 
tion — or the principal one — that will win the respect 

' " It is, I think, an error to assume that eHmination of the school 
and immigration questions will mean complete restoration of the 
former Japanese-American entente. This never can be restored in the 
shape which it previously assumed. Conditions never will revert to 
the situation which gave it vitality. It is perhaps not going too far 
to say that relations of America and Japan are only now becoming 
serious, in the sense that they directly include propositions about 
which modern nations will, upon due provocation, go to war. . . . The 
genesis of a collision between Japan and the United States of America, 
if it ever occurs, will be found in conditions on the mainland of Asia." 
(^The Far Eastern Question, by T. F. Millard (T. Fisher Uuwin, 1909), 
pp. 60-61.) 






^ < 



O S 




en K 





















and support of the Western Powers. If she will 
honestly devote herself to the work of internal reform, 
to the thorough reorganisation of her administrative, 
judicial and fiscal systems, and to the loyal fulfilment 
of her treaty obligations, it is as certain as anything 
in politics can be that she will be doing far more for 
her own protection against foreign interference than 
if she were to construct a dozen coast-fortresses and 
naval bases and a fleet of thirty ** Dreadnought " 
battleships. Her military weakness will not invite 
aggression : it might do so if she were friendless, and 
matched against a single ruthless strong Power or 
group of allied Powers, but the state of international 
politics at the present day is such that an orderly and 
progressive China is absolutely certain to find herself 
backed by at least two mighty friends the instant that 
her legitimate interests are wantonly attacked by any 
aggressive or adventurous foreign state. 

On the other hand, if the Government adheres to its 
present course of alternate radicalism and conservatism 
and continues to play with reform schemes as if they 
were ninepins and foreign treaties as if they were 
packs of cards, the new fleet and naval bases will not 
only be of no avail to the country in her hour of need 
but will serve to hasten a catastrophe in which the 
dynasty, at least, will in all probability be overwhelmed 
and foreign intervention will once more become a 
painful necessity. We saw in a former chapter that 
to charge the Chinese, as a people, with a proclivity to 
untruthfulness, or at any rate to assign such untruth- 
fulness, if it exists, to Confucianism, is erroneous and 
unjust. But let it be admitted at once that the charge 
of insincerity in politics is one that can without unfair- 
ness be brought against the Chinese Government— as, 
indeed, it can be brought against some other states that 
have had less excuse for their conduct than China. 

In her transactions with Western Powers she has 
too often shown want of straightforwardness, duplicity, 
even treachery. Not only does she try to play off 


one Power against another (a game that is played 
with more or less assiduity by every government in 
the world) but she makes promises which she does not 
intend to fulfil except under compulsion, she adopts 
an attitude that is now arrogant and now cringing, 
she is alternately dilatory and hasty, she is often 
hypocritical, and her perpetual changes of external 
and internal policy are a source of the greatest em- 
barrassment to the governments and merchants of 
foreign lands and a source of gravest danger to 
herself. Nothing distresses the sincere friends and 
well-wishers of China so much as the manner in 
which she palters with her international obligations, 
unless it be her haphazard and erratic attempts 
at administrative reform — now hesitating and half- 
hearted, now extravagant and ultra-progressive. 

As regards her foreign relations one is tempted to 
assert that Obstruction, Prevarication and Procrasti- 
nation seem to be the three leading principles of 
Chinese statesmanship. Those who know how sound 
China is at heart, how able, industrious and intelligent 
are her sons, and how well fitted their great country 
is in many ways to play a grand part in the history of 
the world and in the development of civilisation, are 
perhaps even more ready than others to denounce the 
Manchu government of China for its gross mismanage- 
ment of the internal and external affairs of the nation, 
its pitiful misuse of splendid material and its shameful 
waste of magnificent opportunities. 

It is obvious to every foreigner who knows China 
well that the first and most urgent necessity is the 
thorough reform of the entire Civil Service in all its 
branches. So long as offices are bought and sold, so 
long as salaries are so meagre that they must neces- 
sarily be supplemented in irregular ways, so long 
as revenue and expenditure accounts go through no 
proper system of audit, so long as bribery and the 
" squeeze " system are practically recognised as neces- 
sary features of civil administration — so long will it 


be utterly futile to attempt far-reaching reforms in 
other directions. When these abuses have become 
things of the past the general progress of the country 
will be swift and sure, but not till then. It may be 
that they will never be abolished until the new 
Provincial Assemblies — the most striking develop- 
ment of Chinese political life that has been witnessed 
since the opening of the country to foreign intercourse 
— have compelled the central government to admit the 
popular representatives to an active share in the real 
business of administration. 

A question was recently asked in the British House 
of Commons^ as to whether the Chinese Government 
had taken any steps to carry out the provisions of 
Article VIII. of the Mackay Treaty relating to the 
abolition of the Likin system. The reply was that 
China had not yet done anything in the matter ex- 
cept in so far as to express a desire to enter into 
negotiations for an increase of the Customs tariff in 
return for the abolition of likin.^ " In view, how- 
ever, of the failure of the Chinese Government to 
carry out other important provisions of the Treaty 
of 1902, His Majesty's Government are not at present 
disposed to give this proposal their support ; more 
especially in view of the fact that new likin stations 
are being established in China, and that foreign trade 
is being subjected to likin exactions of greater fre- 
quency and amount." 

Probably the most important of the other un- 
observed provisions of the Mackay Treaty, to which 
Mr. McKinnon Wood referred, was the second 
article, in which China undertook to reform her 
currency. Financial reform (including a reorganisa- 
tion and readjustment of the system of internal 

' The question was asked by Captain Murray, M.P., and answered 
by Mr. McKinnon Wood, in September 1909 

^ The " Mackay " Commercial Treaty between Great Britain and 
China was signed at Shanghai on September 5, 1902 Likin is an 
internal tax on merchandise in transit 


taxation as well as the establishment of a uniform 
national coinage) is, next to the thorough cleansing 
of the whole machinery of administration, the 
most urgently necessary of all the tasks that 
confront the Government, yet though nearly eight 
years have elapsed since the Mackay Treaty was 
signed, the only indications that the Chinese 
Government has given any serious consideration to 
this vitally important problem have consisted in 
the despatch of a costly Mission to enquire into the 
financial systems of other countries and in the peri- 
odical issue of Imperial Edicts which promise the 
standardisation of the coinage and other useful reforms 
but have not as yet been followed up by practical 
measures. Not to dwell upon the commercial interests 
of the great foreign communities of Hongkong, 
Shanghai and Tientsin, which are most seriously 
hampered by the apathy of the Chinese Government 
in the matter of currency reform, there can be very 
little doubt that if the present policy of " drift " is 
adhered to, the country will be gravely menaced by 
the peril of bankruptcy. The wiser heads among 
the Chinese officials know perfectly well that an 
inability to meet their foreign liabilities will inevitably 
result in the loss of the economic independence of 
their country, yet they hesitate to introduce the drastic 
financial reforms without which China cannot hope 
to make real progress or to assume a dignified 
position in the councils of nations. 

Provincial independence in matters aff'ecting currency 
and finance is still to a great extent unchecked ; local 
officials still make large temporary profits out of the 
excessive issue of copper coin; the most elementary 
laws of economics are ignored ; innumerable native 
banks are allowed to issue notes against which are 
held cash reserves that are generally inadequate and 
sometimes (so it is whispered) non-existent.^ If China 

> A good general view of the nature of the grave difficulties that 
stand in the way of currency reform may be gained from a perusal of 


would declare her intention of engaging the services 
of a European or American Financial Adviser — the 
best and ablest she could get — the mere announce- 
ment would do more to re-establish her financial 
reputation than a hundred plausibly-worded Imperial 
Decrees. Yet even the ablest of advisers would 
accomplish little of permanent value unless he were 
given a free hand to deal with official corruption in 
high places and safeguarded against petty jealousies 
and underhand intrigues ; and judging from the 
present temper of Chinese officialdom it is very 
doubtful whether any satisfactory guarantees of this 
kind would or could be given. 

The Chinese, not unnaturally, resent the suggestion 
that they should apply to a foreign government for 
the loan of a guide and teacher, or that among all 
their millions of population they possess no able 
statesmen of their own ; but what they should under- 
stand is this, that though there may be and probably 
are hundreds of Chinese officials who in intellect, 
energy, and devotion to duty (if not in actual ex- 
perience) are quite as fully qualified to reorganise the 
finances of the country as any foreigner could be, 
yet it is inconceivable in the present state of Chinese 
politics that any native official, however capable and 
energetic, would be able to withstand and overcome 
the conservative forces that would certainly oppose 
him as soon as he began to assail the fortresses of 
corruption. A foreign adviser might be denounced 
to the Throne in memorial after memorial and yet 
possibly retain his position and authority ; a Chinese 
minister who attempted to initiate reforms worthy of 
the approval of foreign experts would probably be 
overwhelmed by his enemies before a single important 
measure had been carried into effect. 

H. B. Morse's The Trade and Administration of the Chinese Empire 
(Shanghai, 1908). See especially pp. 166-9. Another recent work well 
worth consulting is T. F. Millard's The Far Eastern Question 
(T. Fisher Unwin, 1909), pp. 316 seq. 


One of the strongest reasons why the Chinese 
Government is reluctant to invoke the assistance of a 
foreign Financial Adviser is that such a step might 
lead to the introduction of foreign capital on an 
immense scale, and its gradual monopolisation of 
industry and exclusive exploitation of the national 
resources. Many recent events have shown that the 
Chinese people — even more than the Government — 
are exceedingly averse from throwing China freely 
open to foreign capital, even when the want of capital 
obviously retards the material development of the 
country. This attitude, though naturally enough it ex- 
cites the indignation of foreign financiers and traders, 
who are apt to regard the matter solely from the 
economic standpoint, is probably only temporary, and 
not unjustifiable when we remember the enormous 
power wielded by capital in these days, not only in 
commerce and industry but also in international 
politics. Sir Alfred Lyall truly points out that the 
European money-market is to Asia a " most perilous 
snare," and that the more any Asiatic Government 
runs into debt with European financiers, or has per- 
mitted the investment of foreign capital within its 
territory, the more it falls under the stringent, self- 
interested and inquisitive " political superintendence " 
of the capitalist state.^ 

That China cannot expect to develop her resources 
fully and rapidly without the help of European and 
American capital is doubtless true enough : but in 
view of her somewhat precarious political condition 
it may be that she is acting not unwisely in restricting 
the inflow of foreign capital to the irreducible minimum, 
and if she has reason to believe that the recommenda- 
tions of a Financial Adviser would include the free 
admission of alien capital, her hesitation to avail her- 
self of foreign expert advice may perhaps be easily 
explained. Chinese apprehensions on this subject 

' Asiatic Studies (Second Series, 2nd ed.), pp. 374-5, 376-7. 


might perhaps remain for ever unrealised, but at least 
they can hardly be said to be totally unreasonable.^ 

Next to finance there is perhaps no department that 
calls more peremptorily for foreign supervision than 
that of forestation. The dearth of timber throughout 
the greater part of north China has caused a serious 
deterioration of the climate within historic times, and 
is largely responsible for the denudation of once fertile 
lands and the periodical recurrence of famines. 
Forestry is an unknown science in China, and without 
foreign expert assistance it is unlikely that re-foresta- 
tion will be undertaken seriously and methodically. 
In legal and judicial matters, education, railways, 
municipal government, the army, hospitals, technical 
institutions, and other important matters, some con- 
siderable progress has already been made with or 
without direct foreign assistance, though it seems 
obvious that until the national finances and the Civil 
Service have been thoroughly reorganised every effort 
made in the direction of other reforms must to some 
extent be crippled. 

The Chinese are naturally most anxious to secure 
the abolition of the foreign rights of extra-territorial 
jurisdiction. They feel very keenly the undignified 
position of their country in respect of the fact that 
they alone, of the great nations of the world, have 

^ The following remarks by Lafcadio Hearn on the question of 
the admission of foreign capital into Japan are not inapposite. " It 
appears to me that any person comprehending, even in the vaguest 
way, the nature of money-power and the average conditions of life 
throughout Japan, must recognise the certainty that foreign capital, 
with right of land-tenure, would find means to control legislation, 
to control government, and to bring about a state of affairs that 
would result in the practical domination of the Empire by alien 
interests. . . . Japan has incomparably more to fear from English 
or American capital than from Russian battleships and bayonets." 
{Japafi : An Interpreiatioti, -p. 510.) Urgent economic considerations 
have, of course, compelled Japan not only to admit foreign capital 
in enormous amounts, but even to make heavy sacrifices in order to 
obtain it : but if any other course had been open to her she would 
gladly have adopted it. 


no judicial authority over the foreigners who reside 
within their territorial limits, and they know that the 
reasons why they are in this undignified position are 
that their laws are to some extent inconsistent with 
Western legal theories, that many or most of their 
judicial officers are corrupt, that torture is sometimes 
resorted to as a means of extorting confessions, and 
that their prisons are dens of filth and disease. Know- 
ing that until these matters are remedied it will be 
impossible to persuade the Western Powers to re- 
linquish jurisdiction over their own nationals, the 
Chinese have devoted a good deal of attention during 
recent years to the reform of their judicial procedure 
and — under Japanese and other foreign advice — to the 
production of a new legal code.^ Time will show 
whether the importation of a brand-new legal system 
into a country like China will effect all the good that 
is expected of it. There is a very serious danger that 
by adapting Western legal notions to a country in 
which the native legal system (however faulty in 
practice in some respects) has for many centuries been 
closely intertwined with the traditions and customs 
that govern the lives of the Chinese people, the 
Government may be applying a treatment that will 
act as a solvent of the bases of the entire social 
organism. Even the abolition of foreign consular 
jurisdiction might be bought too dearly if it necessi- 
tated a surrender of doctrines and principles which, 
as we have seen in the foregoing chapters, have 
formed the foundation of the social and political 
system of China throughout the whole of her known 

If in the matter of finance the Chinese Government 

' Article xii. of the Mackay Treaty reads thus: "China having 
expressed a strong desire to reform her judicial system and to bring 
it into accord with that of Western nations, Great Britain agrees to 
give every assistance to such reform, and she will also be prepared to 
relinquish her extra-territorial rights when she is satisfied that the state 
of the Chinese laws, the arrangement for their administration, and other 
considerations warrant her doing so." 


would unquestionably do well to act on the advice of 
the best foreign expert it can get, it is by no means 
so certain that it would be wise to follow foreign 
counsel, with tacit obedience, in all matters affecting 
social, administrative, or even judicial reform. That 
changes are urgently needed in certain directions goes 
without saying; but in view of the impossibility of 
carrying out extensive legal reforms in China without 
simultaneously affecting the social organism, perhaps 
in serious and unexpected ways, it will be well for the 
stability of the State if amid the contending factions 
into which the intelligent sections of the country are 
sure to be divided there may always be one party in 
the land whose programme will be summed up in the 
words "Back to Confucius!" That such a call will 
ever be literally obeyed is quite improbable and cer- 
tainly undesirable ; but it is earnestly to be hoped 
that however drastic may be the social and political 
changes that China is destined to undergo her people 
may never come to regard Confucianism, with all that 
the term implies, merely as a fossil in the stratum of 
a dead civilisation. 

In the course of the foregoing chapters an attempt 
has been made to show that there is much funda- 
mental soundness in many of China's social institu- 
tions, much that it is to the interest of China herself 
and of the whole world to respect and conserve. It 
is difficult to say whether China stands at present 
in greater danger from her own over-enthusiastic 
revolutionary reformers or from her well-meaning but 
somewhat ignorant foreign friends who are pressing 
her to accept Western civilisation with all its political 
and social machinery and its entire religious and 
ethical equipment. If ever a State required skilful 
guidance and wise statesmanship, China needs them 
now : but wise statesmanship will not consist in tear- 
ing up all the old moral and religious sanctions that 
have been rooted in the hearts of the Chinese people 
through all the ages of their wonderful history. 



Chinese words that appear in the text of this book and in the index have been 
given their Pekingese sounds in accordance with Wade's system of trans- 
literation.— R.F.J. ] 

Aberdeen (Hongkong), Scare at, 366 
Aboriginal tribes of Shantung, 38 

Aden, Weihaiwei compared with, 1 7 
Adiantifolia Salisburia, 168, 381 
Administration of Weihaiwei, 7-9, 

28, 80 seq., 429 seq. 
Adoption of heirs, 151, 203, 205, 231, 

284 seq. 
Africa, Suicide of Widows in, 225 
Agriculture, 16, 56,79, 90, 91, 153- 

4, 164, 166, 180 seq. 
Ai-shan-ch'ien (village), 54 
Ai-shan Miao (temple), 54(1), 385-6 
Akeste, H.M.S., i, 156 
Allen, Grant, quoted, 251, 287 (2), 

319.365(1), 379(5X384 
Amitabha Buddha, 404 
Amputations, Chinese superstitions 

regarding, 281 
Ancestor-worship, 119, 126, 134-5J 

186-7, 192, 196, 251-2, 258 seq., 

263, 276 seq., 301 seq., 318 seq., 

328 seq., 331 seq., 342 
Ancestral spirits not malevolent, 286- 

7, 341 seq. 
Ancestral tablets, 135, 236-7, 277 

^^^M 339-40. 277-9, 282 seq. 
Anhui, Province of, 334 
Annals, Chinese official, of Weihaiwei 

and neighbourhood, 26, 35-6, 37, 

46, 52 seq., 56, 58, 59 seq., 168-9, 

289 seq., 300, 362-3, 3907!' 402 
Appeal Court of Weihaiwei, loo-i 
Armadas sent against Japan, 44-5 
Arnold, Matthew, quoted, 329 
Ashtoreth, Moon-goddess of Hittites, 

191 (4) 

Aston, Dr., quoted, 319, 341, 373, 

Astronomical knowledge in early 

China, 40 seq., 59 seq. 
Australia, Folk-lore of, 299 
Aztecs, 420 

Barbarians of eastern Shantung, 38 
seq., 42 

Barnes, Lt.-Col., 83 

Barton, Mr. S., 79 

Bat'uru, a Manchu military distinc- 
tion, 71 

Beacon-fires, 19 

Bee-hive tombs, 257-8 

Bernard, Mr. E. R., quoted, 308 

Betrothals, 203 seq. 

Bishop, Mrs., cited, 377 (2) 

Black's Folk- Medicine quoted, 287- 

8, 291, (I), 375 (I), 377 
Bohemia, Folk-lore of, 298-9, 376 

(I), 382 
Bower, H.M., cited, 379 (5) 
Box, Rev. A., quoted, 180 (3), 1S3 

(2), 185 (3), 366 (I), 371 (I), 377 


Boy Scouts of the Weihaiwei School, 

Brenan, Byron, quoted, 15 (i) 

Bridge to Fairyland, 2 1 -3 

Brigands, 55, 60, 62, 90 

British and Chinese officials, Rela- 
tions between, 87-9 

British Columbia, Betrothal customs 
in, 206 

British rule at Weihaiwei, i seq., 7- 

9, 77 ^"^?. 




Brooms, Demons afraid of, 190 (i), 

Bruce, Major (now Lt.-Col.), 83 
Buddha, Images of, 397, 400-2, 

Buddhism, 10, 334, 351, 352, 357, 

381, 398 seq. 
Burial customs, 6-7, 254 seq., 276 

seq., 367 
Burial-grounds, 135, 254-75 
Burial of evoked souls without the 

body, 281 seq. 
Burial of the living, 225, 274, 367 
Burma, 156 (2) 
" Burning of the Books," 20 
Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy 

quoted, 164 

Caird, Edward, quoted, 329 
Canal suggested at Shantung Pro- 
montory, 19 
Canonisation of saints and deities, 

335. 337, 338 seq. 
Canton, 421 

Capital, Foreign, in China, 446-7 
Carlyle, Thomas, quoted, 328 
Cats, Beliefs regarding, 292-4 
Ceylon, 80 
Chang-chia-shan (village), iS, 382, 

Ch'ang-feng (village), 97 
Ch'ang-kuang prefecture, 44 
Chao-shih-shan (hill), 21 
Character of people of Weihaiwei, 

168 seq. 
Charities in China, 70, 73-4 
Charms, 173-4, 187, 188, 194, 198, 

346, 358 

Chatterton Hill, G., quoted, 224, 
306 (I) 

Chefoo, 14, 24, 78, 426 

Chemulpo, 14 

ChCn-jen of Taoism, 355 

Cheng-ch'i Shan, see Mount Mac- 

Ch'eng Huang (city god), 364-7 1 

Ch'eng-shan-tsui, see Shantung Pro- 

Ch'eng-shan-wei, 46 seq., 51, 53, 63 

Chi-ming-tao (" Cock-crow Island "), 

25. 52 
Ckt-t^ien (sacrificial land), 122, 135, 

Chiang-chia-chai (village), 158 
Chik-hui, 47 seq., 70 
Children of Weihaiwei, 129, 179, 

183-4, 245-53 
Chin dynasty, 59 

ChincCs Millions (missionary journal), 
316-7, 336 

Chinan-fu (capital of Shantung), 407 

Chinese drama, 130 seq. 

Chinese Regiment, The, 28, 82-7 

Ching-hai-wei, 53 

Ching-wei (a mythical bird), 38 

Ch'i Ch'ung-chin, 70 

Ch'i K'uang (village), 18 

Ch'i, State of, 17, 42 seq. 

Ch'iao-t'ou (village), 14, 53, 129 

Ch'ien-Jni, 47 

Ch'ien Li-k'ou (village), 18 

Ch'ien Lung, Reign of, 65 

Ch'in dynasty, 20, 43 

Ch'in Shih Huang- ti (the "First 
Emperor "), 20 seq., 42, 43 

Ch'ing dynasty, 62 

Ch'ing Chou (one of the nine pro- 
vinces of Yii), 39 

Ch'ing-chou-fu, 407 

Ch'ing-feng-t'eng, a Chinese medi- 
cinal herb, 177 

Ch'ing-ming Festival, 70, 185-7, 

Cho-ch'i Shan, see Mount Macdonald 
Chou dynasty, 20, 43 
Christendom, Pagan survivals in, 182 

seq., 186 
Christianity, 104, 157, 302-3, 305 

seq., 314 seq., 333, 407, 412, and see 

Christian Science, 176 
Chronicles, Chinese, see Annals 
Chrysanthemum wine, 192 
Chuang Tzii (Chinese philosopher), 

351 (I), 354 
Ch'utt ChHu (the " Spring and 

Autumn Annals"), 34 
Ch'ii Yiian (ancient statesman of 

Ch'u), 188 
Cicero quoted, I'ji, (4) 
Cinderella of the British Empire, 

The, 2 
City-god, 364-71, and see Ch'eng 

Civil authority, Chinese respect for, 

47> 434-6 
Civil Service of Weihaiwei, 97-101 
Climate of Weihaiwei, 28, 63, 81-2 
Club, United Services, at Weihaiwei, 


Coffins, 121, 290-1 

Coffin-nails, Superstitions regarding, 

Coffin-wood, Chinese and other super- 
stitions regarding, 290- 1 

Cold Food, Festival of, 185-6 

Comets, 59, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67 



Commercial probity of Chinese, 138 
Commissioner of Weihaiwei, 28, 79, 

80, 81, 98 
Concubinage in China, 169, 214 seq. 
" Confucian Pencil," 31 
Confucianism, 10, ii, 109, 116, 123, 

300-50, 434-6, 449, and see 

Confucianism not unreligious but un- 

theological, 330 
Confucius, II, 34-5, 42, 271, 272, 

300, 301 seq., 311 seq., 321, 324 

^eq-, 347. 352-4) 430. 449i ««^ ^^^ 

Conservatism of Weihaiwei, 6~i i 
Convention relating to Weihaiwei, 2, 

29-30. 57, 77-8, 428 
Conyljeare, F. C, quoted, 320 (2) 
Cook, A. B., cited, 378 (2) 
Corpses, Superstitions regarding, 292 

seq., 295 seq. 
County Folk-lore quoted, 176 (i), 

179 (I), 180 (3), 291 (i), 294, 

Courtesy of Orientals, 169 seq. 
Cox, Rev. Sir G. W., quoted, 374 
Crime and lawlessness, Comparative 

freedom from, 87, 99, 158 seq., 

Cross-roads, Superstitions regarding, 

Currency question, 443 seq. 
Cypress trees, 262, 263, 264, and see 

Evergreen trees 

Dalny, 14 {footnote') 

Davenport's China from Within 

quoted, 316 (2), 336 (l) 
Davis, O. K., quoted, 348 
Davis, Sir John, quoted, 331 
Davison, Charles, quoted, 67 (i) 
Dead, Festivals of the, 191, 192, 292, 

Dead, Marriages of the, 6, 204 seq. 
Dead men and ghost-lore, 276 seq. 
Deer in Weihaiwei, 166 
Dennys's Folk-lore of China quoted, 

27, 175 (2), 177 (I), 191 (4), 

287 (2), 291 (i), 292 (2), 294 (I), 

377 (I), 380 (2) 
Devils, 173 seq. 
Devonshire folk-lore, 291 (i) 
Diodorus Siculus quoted, 402 (i) 
District headmen, 95, 156, 289 
District magistracies, 15 seq., 53 
District Officer's Department, 53, 54, 

97, and see Wen-ch'iian-t'ang and 

South Division 

Divisions, North and South, of 

Weihaiwei, 97-8, 104, 114 seq., 

Dog, Heavenly, 174 
Dogs, Superstitions regarding, 292-3 
Doolitlle's Social Life of the Chinese 

cited, 291 (i) 
Dorward, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 79 
Douglas, Sir Robert, quoted, 104, 

312,313, 352 (2), 387 (3) 
Dragon, Chniese, 36, 37, 385-91, 

and see Lung Wang 
Drama in China, 130 seq. 
Driver, Prof. S. R., 365 (i) 
Drought-demon, 295-9 
Droughts, 16, 52, 60 seq., 81, 90, 

297, 346 
Drowning, Superstitions regarding, 

Du Bose quoted, 331, 348 
" Dwarf-catchers," 49 
" Dwarfs," see Wo-jen ««</ Japanese 
Dyaks of Borneo, 376 (i) 
Dynastic histories of China, 35 

Earthquakes, 55, 60, 61, 63, 64, 

66, 67 
Eclipses, 68, 418-22 
Edkins, Dr., quoted, 334, 417-8 
Education, 172 seq., 195, 333 
Egypt, 318, 320, 387 (2) 
Egypt, Funeral trees in, 264 (i) 
Eliot, Sir Charles, quoted, 329, 335 {2), 

Elixir of Life, 20, 22, 24, 32 
Epidemics, 56, 64, 67 
Ethics, Confucian, 301 seq., 307 seq., 
^ 328 seq., 352-3 

Ethics, Taoist, 352 seq., 354 seq. 
Ethnography of Weihaiwei, 38 seq. 
Evergreen trees. Significance of, 121- 

2, 262-4, 378 
Evil spirits, 289 seq., 292 
Excalibur, A Chinese, 362-3 
Export trade of Weihaiwei, 90, 

164 seq. 
" Expulsion from the clan" i^ch^u tsu). 

Expulsion of disease, Magical, 183, 

192, 375 -y^'/-, 384 
Extra-territorial jurisdiction, 447-8 

Fairs, Country, 129 seq. 

Family organisation, 112 seq., 135 

Families, Antiquity of Chinese, 134 

Famines, 16, 36, 55, 56, 59 seq. 



Fang Chi (village), 401 

Farnell's Evolution of Religion cited, 
321, 338, 416 (2) 

Feathers and rain, Supposed con- 
nection between, 295 seq.y 298-9 

Feti-chia (Family division), it^^ seq., 
a 1 8-9 

Fhi-sku (deed specifying details of 
division of family property), 149 

Feng-lin (village), 129 

Feng-shui (geomantic superstition), 
119-20, 181, 198, 203, 251, 264-70, 

333. 387 
Ferguson's Tree and Serpent Worship 

cited, 379 (5) 
Festivals at Weihaiwei, 178 seq. 
Fichte quoted, 329 
Fiji Islanders, Religious ideas of, 

251 (3) 
Filial Piety, 196, 199, 200, 272-5, 

342 seq., and see Ancestor-worship 
Filial Fiety, Classic of, quoted, 271-4 
Financial position of China, 443 seq. 
Fir-trees, 121-2, 167, 262-4, 378, 

and see Evergreen trees 
" First Emperor, The," 20 seq., 43 
Fish, Large, seen at Weihaiwei, 24, 

26, 27, 62, 65 
Fitzgerald Range, 31 
Five Sacred Hills, 71, 73, 74, 391 

seq., 396 
Fleet, Ships of British, at Weihaiwei, 

25-6, 81-2, 429 
Floods, 16, 36, 52, 55. 56, 59 ^£'1-, 81 
Flora of Weihaiwei, 167 
Flowers' Birthday, 185 
Flying corpses, 295 seq. 
Fo-erh-ting (Buddha's Head), 32 
Folk-lore, 34 seq., 155 seq., 173 seq. 

and passim 
Folk-lore quoted, 183 (2), 184 (l), 

281 (i), 298 (3), 299, 377 (2), 379, 

Folk-lore Jotirnal quoted, 264 (l), 

291 (I), 294, 298 (2), 379 
Food of the people, 164 seq. 
Foot-binding, 195 
Foreslation, 17, 447 
Forke's translation of Lun Heng 

cited, 40 (2), 271 (I), 297 (3) 
P'ortifications of Weihaiwei, 27, 56, 

78, 426-9 
Foundation Sacrifices, 365 seq. 
Four Famous (Buddhist) Mountains, 

Frazer's Golden Bough quoted, 183(2), 
186 (I), 187 (3), 294 (2), 295, 
375(1), 376(1), 377 (3): 379 

From Peking to Mandatay cited, 

Frugality of people of Weihaiwei, 

Fruit, Magic, 25 

Fruit-growing in Weihaiwei, 164-5 
Fu (Prefecture), 15, 16 
Fu-fHU-kuan (Father - and - mother 

officials), 9, 15, 98, 122-3, 345-6 
Fu-sang (name of mythical land in 

the East), 21, 24-5, 419 
Fuso, Japanese name for Fu-sang. 
Fustel de Coulanges cited, 142, 

Future of China, 125-6, 135 (5), 

138 (I), 240 seq., 307, 426 seq. 

Gambling, 171 

Game-birds, 165-6 

Gardiner, S. R., quoted, 200-I 

Garrison of Weihaiwei, 82 seq. 

German action in China, 57, 58 

Ghosts, 173 seq., 276 seq., 286 seq., 

289 seq. 
Gibbon's Decline and Fall quoted, 

182 (2) 
Gibraltar, 80 
Giles, Prof. H. A., quoted, 188, 

301-2, 305, 308, 313, 348 (2), 

349. 351 
Giles, Lionel, quoted, 303, 305, 311, 

Ginkgo tree, see Maidenhair tree 
Gloucestershire, Dragons in, 387 (2) 
Glover, T. R., cited, 319 (2). 

320(2, 3), 378(1) 
God, Definition of, 330-1 
God of the City, 364-71 
God of War, see Kuan Ti 
God of Wealth, 360-1 
Goddess of Mercy, see Kuan Yin 
Goh, D., cited, 319 (4) 
Golden Age of China, 39 
Golden Bough, The, see Frazer. 
Golden Rule, The, 352 
Golf links at Weihaiwei, 25, 2g 
Gomme's Folk-lore Relics quoted, 

186 (2), 193 (I), 293, 365 (I), 

Government of Weihaiwei, British, 

7-9, 28, 80 seq., 429 seq. 
Grape-cultivation, 165 
Graveyards, 254-75 
Great auk, China not a, 307 
Great Wall of China, The, 21, 365 
Greece, Ancient, 373, 396-7 
Griffis, Dr. W. E., quoted, 304, 307, 

322, 379 (5), 387 (4) 



Groot, Dr. De, quoted, 6, 7, 17, 
174 (3), 185 (i), 192 (i), 219, 
262, 263, 271, 277, 27S, 279, 280, 
283, 287 (i), 291 (I), 292, 298 (I), 
380 (2), 387 (3, 4), 435 

Ground-nuts, 164 

Guisers, 184 (i) 

Hachiman (Japanese deity), 362 

Hai Chuang (village), 78 

Hai-hsi-t'ou (village), 2S9 

Hailstorms, 59, 61-2 

Hallam quoted, 310 

Halley's comet, 59, 63 

Han dynasty, 59, 79 ( i ) 

Han Fei Tzii (philosopher), 351 (l) 

Han Kao Tsu, (Emperor Kao Tsu 

of the Han dynasty), 43 
Han Wu Ti (Emperor Wu of the 

Han dynasty), 23 
Han-pa (drought-demon), 295 seq. 
Happy marriages in China, 195-6, 

Harbour of Weihaiwei, 25 seq., 28, 

78, 426 seq. 
Hare, Mr. G. T., 79 
Harriers, Weihaiwei, 82 
Headmen, 155, 289, 336, 371-7, 382, 

Hearn, Lafcadio, 341, 349, 431, 

447 (I) 
Hearth-god, 193, 372 
Hebrews, Serpent-worship among, 

Hegel quoted, 329 
Hell, Christian attitude towards idea 

of, 323-4 
Hells of Buddhism, 402 
Hemp, Folk-lore connected with, 


Herd-boy and Spinning Maiden, 

Chinese legend of, 190 
Yi&xoAo\.w% quoted, 315, 316, 365 (i) 
Heroes and other celebrities of 

Weihaiwei, 69 seq. 
High Court of Weihaiwei, 99-icX) 
Hill-Tout's British North America 

cited, 206 
Hills of Weihaiwei, 30-3, 78-9, 

Hills, Sacred, of China, 71, 73, 74, 

116, 391 seq., 396 
Historians' History of the World 

quoted, 35 
History of Weihaiwei, 38 seq. 
Ho the Astronomer, 43 
Ho Ch'ing (village), 391 
Holcombe, Chester, 352 (4) 
Holidays at Weihaiwei, 178 seq. 

Hongkong, 77, 80, 81, 366 
Honour, Commercial, among Chinese, 

138 seq. 
Hooker quoted, 330 
Hot springs, 29, 98, 400 
Hotels at Weihaiwei, 26, 28 
House of Lords, The Chinese, 349-50 
Hsi and Ho (astronomers), 40-2 
Hsi-yii-ting (hill), 31 
Hsien (magisterial district), 14 seq., 

48, 53 
Hsien-jen (mountain recluses), 32 
Hsiin-chien (Chinese deputy-magis- 
trate), 30, 53-4, 367-8 
Hua Shan (one of the Five Sacred 

Hills), 73 ^ 
Huai Nan Tzii (philosopher), 351 (i) 
Huan-ts'ui-lou (tower on city walls), 

30, 31 
Huang Ch'eng-tsung, 75-6 
Huang K'o Ssii (temple), 401 
Human flesh, Eating of, 61, 64 
Human sacrifices, 365-6 
" Hundred-grass lotion," 189-90 
Hunting at Weihaiwei, 82 
Huo Ch'ien (village), 391 
Hydrophobia, 176-8 

Idolatry, 320-I, 335 seq., 337, 340, 

348, 412, 414 seq. 
India, Unrest in, 432 
Individualism, 135 seq., 344 
Insincerity in politics, Chinese, 441 
Irish folk-lore, 281 (i), 296 (i), 

Isis and Horus, 320 
Isles of the Blest, 24-5 

Jade-Imperial-God, 32, 391 seq,, 396, 

Jamaica, 80 

James, Prof. William, cited, 324 
Japan and Japanese, 40, 44, 48, 56, 

70, 87 (I), 348, 373, 375-6, 379, 

387 (4), 432, 438-9 
Japan, Abortive Chinese attempts at 

invasion of, 44-5 
Japan, Confucianism in, 304-5 
Japanese ancestor- worship, 341-2, 


Japanese " spiritualism," 175 (2) 

Jen-chieh (Festival of Living Men), 
192, 369 

Jesuits in China, 334 

Jih-tao (Sun Island), 30 

Jih-yileh-ho-pi (atmospheric appear- 
ance), 64 

Joan of Arc, 338(0 



[u Hsiieh (Director of Confucian 
studies), 47 

Jung-ch'eng city and district, 13, 14, 
16, 18, 19, 24, 43. 44, 47, 51. 
53, 98, iSo(i), 301, 369 71, 390 

Jiing-ck''hig hsien chih (Annals of 
Jung-ch'eng), 37, 56, 168-9, 402 

Jurisdiction of courts in Weihaiwei, 

Juristic Person {Persona ficta), Evolu- 
tion of, 156 seq. 

Kakasu Okakura cited, 356 

K'ang Hsi, The Emperor, 51 

K'ang Hsi Dictionary, 40, 297 (2) 

Kempson, Rev. F. C, quoted, 324 

Khond tribes of India, 3S2-3 

Ki-ming island, see Chi-ming-tao 

Kiao-chou, 14, 17, 57, 58, 428 

Kingsmill, T., quoted, 352 (3) 

Kitchen-god, see Hearth-god 

Knox, Prof. G. W., 353-4 

Kojin (Japanese deity), 193 (i) 

Korea, i, 20, 39, 40, 183 (2), 377 

Kowloon, 77, 428 (2) 

Ku Hung-ming quoted, 311 

Ku-mo Shan, 31 

Ku Shan (hill and temple), 399-402 

Ku-shan-hou (village), 129 

Ku Sheng-yen, 70 

Ku-yli hills, 78-9 

Kuan Ti (God of War), 27, 338, 

Kuan Yin, 336, 357, 385, 404, 

Kublai Khan, 44-5 
Ktiei Chieh (Festivals of the Dead), 

191, 192, 292, 369 

La-pa-choic (Twelfth-month gruel), 

Lai-tzu, 43 

Lancashire folk-lore, 377 
Land-tax, 64, 65, 96-7 
Land-tenure, 55, 127-54 
Lang, Andrew, quoted, 318 (l) 
Lantern-dances, 184 
Lantern Festival, 182-4, 409 
Lao Chiin, 391 
Lao Mountains, 73 
Lao Tzii (The Old Philosopher), 

40(1), 351 seq., 391 
Lao-ya Shan, 31 
Laoism, 356 

Lawyers, Absence of, 102, 104 
Le Roy cited, 326 ( i ) 
Lease of Weihaiwei to Great Britain, 

29, and see Convention 

Legal system ol China, Reform of, 

Legge, Professor, cited, 39, 41 (l), 
271 (i), 297 (I), 300 (I), 302 (2), 
311, 312, 313, 316, 321, 340, 

345 (2), 353 . . 
Li ChUtn (Beginning of Spring), 

180 seq. 
Li Hung-chang a serpent-worshipper, 

.387 (3). 
Li-k'ou hill, 32 
Li Tzii-ch'eng, 50 
Lighthouses, 19 
Likin tax, 443 
Lin-chia-yiian (village), 165, 381, 

Lincolnshire, Folk-lore of, 176 (i), 

.179 (0, 379. 387(2) 

Literature, God of, 361-2 
Litigation, 98 seq., 102-26 
Liu, Mr. and Mrs., 26-8 
Liukungtao, 12, 25 seq., 30, 47, 48, 

50, 78, 79 
Lockhart, Sir James PL Stewart, 79 
Locusts, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 

68, 396 
Lowell, Percival, Occult Japan by, 

quoted, 175 (2) 
Lu, Earl of, 69 

Lu, the native state of Confucius, 42 
Luchu Islands, i 

Lucky and Unlucky days, 295 (2) 
Lun Hhig of Wang Ch'ung cited, 

40(2), 271 (i), 297, 347 (I) 
Lung Wang (Dragon King), 289, 

336, 385-91 
Lyall, Sir Alfred, cited, 339, 365 (l), 

Lyra, H.M.S., l, 56 

Ma-t'ou, see Port Edward 
Macdonald, Mount, 32, 166, 397-8 
Macgowan's Sidelights on Chinese 
Life quoted, 109, 201 (2), 342 (2), 
414, 423, 424 
Mackay Treaty, 443-4, 448 (0 
Mad dogs. Cures for bites of, 176-8 
Madagascar, Mirror superstition in, 

Magdalen College, May Day at, 413 
Magisterial courts at Weihaiwei, 98 

Maidenhair tree, 168, 381 
Maine's Ancient Law cited, 136 (i) 
Malay States, Superstitions and folk- 
lore of, 175 (I), 298 (I), 379, 
422 (I) 
Manchu dynasty, 50- 1 
Manchu invasion of China, 50-1 



Mandalay, 365 

Mang-shm, 180-2 

Mang-tao village and tree, 383-4 

Market villages, 129 

Marriage customs, 169, 203 seq., 232 

Marriages between the dead, 6, 204 

Martin, W. A. P., quoted, 332-3, 

Maspero cited, 356, 379 (5) 
McKibben, Rev. W. K., quoted, 354 
Meadows quoted, 321 
Mencius, 34, 300, 343 (i), 430 (i) 
Meng-chia-chuang (village), 134 
Mexico, Religious customs and beliefs 

in, 186, 375, 388 
Micius (Chinese philosopher), 347 (i) 
Middlemen in Chinese marriages, 

204, 206 
Midsummer, Folk-lore relating to, 189 
Military precautions against Japanese, 

44 seq. 
Milky Way, Different names for, 

Millard, T. F., quoted, 440 (i), 445 

Ming dynasty, 31, 44, 46, 50-1, 6 . 
Mirage, 30 

Mirrors, Superstitions regarding, 294-5 
Missionaries, 11, 57, 58, 122, 123-4, 
302 (2), 315 seq., 331 seq., 336, 
353 ^eq., 407, 412 
Mo Tzii, see Micius 
Mock suns (parhelia), 60 
Modernists, 326 (i), 413 
Mohammedanism, 407 
Mongol dynasty, 44, 257-8, and see 

Kublai Khan 
Montaigne's Essays quoted, 312 (2), 

Montesquieu quoted, 344 ( i ) 
" Moon" (month) in China, 59-60 
Moon-worship, 1^2 seq., 191 
Morse, H. B., cited, 444 (i) 
Mortgages of Land, 145 seq. 
Mou Chou (district), 44 
Mou-p'ing, Marquisate of, 43 
Mou-tzii country, 43 
Mountain-shrines, 395-8, and see 

Mountain-worship, 391-8 
Mountains, Celebrated, of China, 

35-6, 71, 73, 74, 391 seq. 
Mu yii (Buddhist "wooden fish"), 

Mugwort, Magical use of, 188-9 
Miiller, Max, cited, 319, 321,334(2), 
352 (2), 353, 414, 416-7 

Mutilations of human body, Chinese 
abhorrence of, 281 

Nagasaki, 14 

Nai-ku-shan (hill), 30, 76 

Names of persons and villages, 163-4 

Nature, Chinese love of wild, 32-3, 
393 seq. 

Navy, The Chinese, 426 seq. , 436 seq. 

"New Fire," 186 

New Guinea, Treatment of children's 
corpses in, 25 1 

New Territory of Hongkong, 77 

New Year Festivities, 178-8, 193-4 

New Zealand Hearth-god, 193 (l) 

Newman, Cardinal, 328 

Newspapers, Absence of, in Weihai- 
wei, 436 

Ning-hai city and district, 14, 16, 44, 
53, 180(1), 301 

Ning-hai-chou Chih (Annals of Ning- 
hai), 37, 300, and see Annals 

Nobushige Hozumi quoted, 341, 348, 

373 .. . 
North Division of Weihaiwei, 97 seq., 

Northumberland folk-lore, 180 (3), 

185 (2), 293 
Nun, Story of a Buddhist, 405-6 

Ocean spirits, 21-2 
" Oie-hai-oie," i 

Oman's Cults, Ctistoms and Super- 
stitions of India quoted, 225 
Opium in Weihaiwei, 17 1-2, 357 
Order-in-Council, Weihaiwei, 8, 99> 

Ordinances of Weihaiwei, 80-1 
Orkney and Shetland folk-lore, 

184(1), 293, 294 
Orpheus of S. Reinach quoted, 379 (5) 
Oxford, Rev. A. W., quoted, 315 (i), 
319. 378(2) 

Pa kua (mystic diagrams), 181 

Pai-hu, 47 

Palestine, Human sacrifices in, 365 (i) 

Pao-hsin (village), 382 

Parhelia (mock-suns), 60, 63, ()T, 68 

Parker, Prof. E. H., quoted, 137 (l), 

334 (2), 335. 355 (i) 
Patria potestas, 1 49 seq. 
Patriarchal theories, 15, 16,149, ^S^, 

209 seq., 252-3 
Patriotism in China, 429 seq. 
Peasantry of Weihaiwei, Hardihood 

of, 68-9 
Pedigree-scrolls, 279 



Pei k'ou Pass (also village and 

temple), i8 (i), l68 (i) 
Peking, 8i, 392 
Pennant's Tour in Scotland cited, 


Persecutions by Christians, 308-9 
Peru, Religious and other customs in, 

186, 225, 418 
Pestilences, 55, 64, 68, and see 

Petitions to officials at Weihaiwei, 

114 seq. 
P'eng-lai (name of fairy islands), 21, 

Philanthropy shown by Chinese, 70, 

Philostratus quoted, 435-6 
Philpot's The Sacred Tree cited, 

379 (5). 380 
Pi Kao, 70 
Pine-trees, 262, and see Evergreen 

Pirates, 44 seq., 48 seq., 52, 55, 61 
Planchette in China, 174 seq. 
Poets and poetry of Weihaiwei, 30, 

72, 73. 74 
Poisonous influences of the fifth 

month, 188-9 
Police of Weihaiwei, 83, 98, loi, 

1 58 seq. 
Polygamy in China, 214 
Pootoo (sacred island), 394, 414 
Population of Weihaiwei, 28, 29, 79, 

Port Arthur, 2, 14, 56, 57, 428 
Port Edward, 27, 28, 29, 79, 97, 172, 

385. 429 
Prayer, Confucius's attitude towards, 

"Pro-Chinese," 125 
Promontory, see Shantung Promontory 
Prosperity of Weihaiwei under British 

rule, 90, 94-5 
Psychic research, 175 
Pu-yeh city and district, 43 
Public works at Weihaiwei, 93-4 

Queen of Heaven, The Chinese, 336, 

Rain, Curious superstitions regarding, 

Rain, Prayers for, and rain-charms, 

31, 187, 336, 346 
Rainfall, 16, 18, 8i 
Rationalism in China, 334 
Recluses, Taoist, 32, 393 seq. 
Recreation, Means of, at Weihaiwei, 

26, 29 

Red, a lucky colour, 174, 178, 179, 

Reform movements, 9-1 1, 173, 436 

seq., 449 
Regiment, Weihaiwei, 28, 82-7 
Reinach's Orpheus cited, 379 (5) 
Religion, Definitions of, 328-30 
Religions of China, 23, 27-8, 31, 32, 
69-70, 129 seq., 254 SCKJ., 276 seq., 
300, 351, 385, and see IBuddhism, 
Taoism, Confucianism, etc. 
Revenue and expenditure of Weihai- 
wei, 93-7 
Ritchie, D. G., quoted, 135, 317 (i) 
Rivers, see Streams 
Robbers and brigands, 55, 62, go 
Robertson, J. M., quoted, 186 
Rome, Church of, in China, 334 seq. 
Rome, Religion in, 373, 378 
Russian action in China, 57 

Sacred Edict, The, 123-4 

Sacred hills of China, see Hills, Sacred 

Sacred trees, 375, 377-81 

Sacrifices, Human, 365 seq. 

Saints of Christendom, 335, 337, 

San Chiao (Three Religions of 
China), 407 

San Kuan (Taoist divinities), 361 

Sati, 224-5, and see Widows 

Scenery of Weihaiwei and neighbour- 
hood, 17, 18, 25, 395 seq. 

Schleiermacher quoted, 329 

Scholarly hermits of China, 72-3, 

393 ■^^?- 
School, European, at Weihaiwei, 28, 

Scolds, Female, in Weihaiwei, 197 

Scott, Sir Walter, 314 
Scottish folk-lore, 1S4 (l), 291 (l), 

293, 294. 296, 298 
Sea-monsters in Chinese legend and 

history, 24, 26, 27, 62, 65 
Secretary to Government of Weihai- 
wei, 79, 98 
Seoul (Korea), Spring customs at, 

183 (2) 
Serpent-worship, 387 seq. 
Shan Hai Ching ("Hill and Sea 

Classic"), 38, 40 (2), 42, 297 
Shan-shen (mountain-spirits), 166, 

and see Hills, Sacred, of China 
Shansi (Shan-hsi), Province of, 346 
Shang Chuang (village), 18 
Shanghai, 14 (l\ 142 (2) 
Shanghai folk-lore, 180 (3), 183 (2), 

185 (3). 371 (I), 377(1) 



Shang Fen ("Going up to the 
Tombs"), 187, and see Ancestor- 

Shang Ti, 392, 395 

Shantung, Area and subdivisions of, 

Shantung Promontory, 14, 18-25, 40 

^«<l^^ S3. 56, 60, 78 

Shantung Province, Alleged special 

sanctity of, 430 (i) 
Shantung T^ttng Chih (official Annals 

and Topography of Shantung), 56 
Shen, an ancient worthy of Wen-teng, 

Shen-nung, The Emperor, 39, 180 
Sheng-chia-chuang (village), 69 
Sheng-tzu (village), 14, 53 
Shetland Islands, Folk-lore of, 184(1), 

291 (i) 
Shih Ching quoted, 206, 297 
Shih Huang Ch'iao (Bridge of the 

" First Emperor "), 19 seq. 
Shinto, 319 (4), 341 
Shu Ching (a Confucian classic), 34-5, 

39, 40, 41 
Shuang-tao (village), 97 
Shun, The Emperor, 39, 392 
Sidney, Sir Philip, 314 
Silk industry, 59, 141 (i), 162, 166 
Sino-Japanese war, 2, 56, 87 (i), 

Skating, 81 
Skeat's Malay Magic quoted, 1 75 ( i ), 

298(0.379(1, S), 422 (I) 
Small-pox in Weihaiwei, 193 
Smith, A. H., quoted,22^ (2), 321-2, 

331-2, 334 
Snipe, 165-6 
Sociological interest of Weihaiwei, 

133 seq., 155 seq., 195 seq. 
Solomon, King, 22 
Sophora Japonica, 168, 381, 383 
Souls, Festivals of, 191, 292, 369 
South Division of Weihaiwei, 97 seq., 

104, 114 seq., 129 
Spectator, The, quoted, 333, 431 
Spencer, Herbert, 315, 316, 341, 431 
"Sphere of Influence," British, 78 
Spiders, Folk-lore connected with, 

Spiritualism, Chinese, I'j^seq. 

Sport at Weihaiwei, 82, 165-6 

Spring Festivals, iSo seq. 

Spring Ox, 180-2 

Ssuch'uan, Chinese official Annals of, 

Ssu-ma Ch'ien (Chinese historian), 

St. George and the Dragon, 387 (2) 

St. Helena, 80 

Straits Settlements, 80 

Streams of Weihaiwei, 18 

Su-men-tao (island), 42 

Suicides, 219, 221 seq. 

Sulphur springs at Weihaiwei, 29 

Summer at Weihaiwei, 66 

Sun, Chinese legends relating to the, 

21, 40 seq., 60-1 
Sun-worship, 185 
Sung dynasty, 44, 59 
Sung-lin-Kuo-chia (village), 163 
Sung Ting hill, 31 
Swettenham's Malay Sketches quoted, 

1.75 (O 
Switzerland, Holy trees in, 379 

Sympathetic magic, 176, 416 

Ta-jen (term of respect), 15, 16, 

Taku, 14 

Ta K'un-yii hills, 79 
Ta-lan-t'ou (village), 78 
Ta lao-ych (term of respect), 15, 

106 (2) 
Ta-sung-wei, 53 
T'ang dynasty, 44, 59, 398-9 
T^ai PHng Huan Yii Chi quoted, 

21, 22, 43.46 
Tao, Meaning of, 352, 354-5 
Tao Te Ching, 351 seq., 355 
Taoism, lo-il, 32, 173 seq., 333, 

Taoism, Supreme God of, 32, 391 seq. 
Taoist "Pope," 358 
Taoist priesthood, 357 seq. 
T'ao Lang-hsien, 50 
Taxation under British rule, 93-7 
Temperature of seasons at Weihaiwei, 

Temples, 23, 26, 27, 60, 78, 79, 129 

seq., 135, 258, 279, 301, 357 seq., 

391 seq., 399 seq. 
Tengu, see T'ien Kou 
Teng-chou, 16, 40, 44 
Tennyson, 411-12 
Tertullian, 323 
Thackeray quoted, 325 (i) 
Theatricals, i^^o seq., 183-4 
Thermal springs, 29, 98, 400 
Ti, a Chinese word for God, 339-41 
Tiao-wo hill, 31 
Tiger, Manchurian, 160 
Times, The. quoted, 432 
Ting, Admiral, 2 
Ting Pai-yun, 73 
T'ien Hon, Queen of Heaven, 336, 




Tien Kou (Heavenly Dog), 174 
Tombs, Festivals of, 186-7, 255-6, 

and see Ch'ing-ming 
Torture in Chinese courts, 309-10 
Tou Shan Ssii (Buddhist temple), 

Trade of Weihaiwei, 28, 94-5, 129, 

164 seq., 426 seq. 
Transmigration of souls, 403-4 
Tree-worship, 261-2, 375, 377-81 
Trees, 17, 18, 167-8 
Truthfulness, Chinese and Confucian 

conceptions of, 105, 108-12, 310-17 
Tsai Li Sect or Society, 35S 
Ts'ai Shen (God of Wealth), 360-I 
Tsao Shen, see Hearth-god 
Ts'ao-miao-tzii, 1 29 
Tsingtao, 426 
Tso Chuan, 35 
Ts'iin Kuei (village regulations), 

160 seq. 
Tung-lai Prefecture, 43, 44 
Tutelary local deities, 364-77 
T'u Ssii, 47 
T'u Ti (local deity), 155, 336, 371-7, 

, 382, 386 
Tylor's Primitive Culture quoted, 

177, 186,251 (3), 252, 261, 287(2), 

319 (2), 320, 341 (2), 365 (i), 

375. 377, 378, 381, 382, 403. 4". 
418, 419, 420, 422, 423 
Tyrell, George, quoted, 326 (l), 329 

Uji-gami of Japan, 373 

United States and China, 440 seq. 

Untruthfulness of Chinese, Alleged, 

108-12, 310-17 
Upanishads of India, 330 
Urn-burial, Sir Thomas Browne's, 

quoted, 239 (l), 264 (l) 

Vaeddas of Ceylon, 252 
Vampires, 298 
Vedas of India, 330-1 
Vientian, Dances at, 131-2 
Village-life and Land tenure, 127 seq. 

155 JtV/. 
Village tutelary gods, 155, 336, 371-7 
Villages of Weihaiwei, 79, 127 seq., 

155 seq. and passim 
Vine-cultivation, 165 
Vivian, Philip, quoted, 304-5 

Wade, Sir Thomas, quoted, 329 
Walter, Mr. R., 79 
Wang-chia-k'uang (village), 18 
Wang Ch'i-jui, 74-5 

Wang Ch'ung (Chinese philosopher) 

quoted, 40 (2), 271 (i), 297, 

347 (I), 422 
Wang Hsien-wu, a Pirate, 50 
Wang Yiieh, 71 
War, God of, see Kuan Ti 
Water, Lack of running, 18 
Watters, T., quoted, 183 (2) 
Wealth, God of, 360-1 
Weather, Methods of forecasting, 

Weeping over corpses. Superstition 

regarding, 295 seq. 
Wei, meaning of, 12-13 
fFe? (military district), 12, 13, 46j-d'^., 

5?-3. 54, 55 
Wei Chiang-chiin, 70 

Wei To (Buddhist divinity), 404 

Weihaiwei Convention, 2, 29-30, 57, 

77-8, 428 ; meaning of name, 12-3 ; 

Order-inCouncil, 8, 99, 100 ; 

scenery of, 17, 18, 25, 395 seq. 
IVeihaizvei Chih (Chinese Annals of 

Weihaiwei), 37, 46, 168, 289 seq., 

362-3, 390-1 
Weihaiwei City, 29, 47, 78, 129, 362, 

Weihaiwei, Future of, 426 seq. 
Weihaiwei Police, 83, 98, loi, 158 

Weihaiwei Regiment, 28, 82-7 
Weihaiwei School, 28, 90 
Wen-ch'ang (Taoist divinity), 361-2 
Wen-ch'iian-chai, 53, 54, 382 
Wen-ch'lian-t'ang, 53, 54, 70, 98, 

165, 400 
Wen-teng city and district, 13, 14, 16, 

23, 43, 44, 48, 53, 63, 69, 98, 
180(1), 301 
Wen-teng, Legendary origin of name, 

Wen-teng Magistrate, 30, 61, 64 
Wen-teng, Marquis of, 69-70 
Wen-teng Shan (hill), 23, 69 
Wcn-tc)ig Hsien Chih (Annals and 

Topography of Wen-teng), 36, 

37, 46, 56, and see Annals 
White-clouds, Mr., 73 
Widow-immolation, 204 seq., 2\(jseq., 

225 seq. 
Widows, 217 seq. 
Wild-fowl at Weihaiwei, 165-6 
Williams, Dr. Wells, 316 (2), 331, 

334 (2), 335. 336, 421 
Willow-wreaths as rain-charms, 187, 

Wiltshire, Folk-lore of, 281 (l) 
Winter at Weihaiwei, 81-2 
Witches, Chinese, 21-4, 174, 176 



Wives, Purchase of, 211 seq. 
Wo-jen (" Dwarfs," a term applied to 

Japanese), 46, 48, 70 
Wo Lung Shih (names of rocks), 19 
Wolves, 56, 57, 166 
Women, Chinese, 103, 112, 113, 

\i^o seq., 168-9, 195-216, 217-45 
Wordsworth quoted, 394 
Wu fit (five degrees of relationship), 

Wii Yileh or Wu Yo, see Hills, 

Wylie's Notes on Chinese Literature 

cited, 313 (3) 

Yamens, Chinese, 55 

Yang and Yin. see Yin-yang 

Yang Ku (the Valley of Sunlight), 

Yang-t'ing (village), 129, 385 
Yao, The Emperor, 39, 40, 392 

Yao-yao hill, 31 

Yellow and White races. Alleged 

antipathy between, 430 seq. 
Yin-ma-ch'ih (" Drink-horse-pool"), 

24 . . ., 

Yin-yang (in ancient Chinese philo- 
sophy), 262 seq., 276, and see 
York Powell, F., quoted, 319-20 
Yorkshire, Graveyard superstitions of, 

291, 386(1) 
Yorkshire, Holy trees in, 379 
Yung Lin, Suicide of, 223 (i) 
Yli, The Emperor, 20, 39, 392 
Yu-chia-k'uang (village), 18, 398 
Yii I (earliest recorded inhabitants of 
eastern extremities of Chinese 
Empire), 38 seq. 
Yii P'eng-lun, 70 
Yiian (Mongol) dynasty, 44, 45, 59, 


Yiian Shu-fang, 72 







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